Mary -- A Portrait of Our Lady : On Sorrow and Joy


A Portrait of Our Lady: On Sorrow and Joy

By

Ronald D. Curley


There are many portraits of our Lady in the Holy Scriptures. This is becoming more and more evident to me as I study the Holy Scriptures. I see in them the "portrait" that the Holy Spirit has painted and drawn so clearly of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hand in hand, our Lady also takes us to Jesus. Yet, our Lord often takes us right back with his touch to our Lady in order to show us in some way our own destiny in Christ as the "chaste virgin" we are in the process of becoming in Christ, as the People of God in communion with one another in the Church.

Such a wonderful portrait exists in the lovely story of the woman of Nain and her only child. The word, "nain" means, "pasture," and reflects for me how our Lord is with all of us in the pasture wherein we dwell as his sheep, even in times of sorrow and greatest loss. Yet, he who is the Resurrection and the Life comes to meet with us and touch each of us uniquely at the "gate," bringing forth another of many portraits of the glorious mysteries to come forth, not only of the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, his Mother, and our Mother, but, for us as well, as we journey toward our own consummation through this valley of tears with our Lady and the Blessed fruit of her womb.

Many graces are available for us from God. It is not so?

The Gospel according to St. Luke 7:11-17

11 Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep."
14 He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!"
15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people."
17 This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Homiletic reflection:

11 Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.

It is appropriate that you and I see in these words the little city of the "pasture," where we all dwell within the wilderness where we are with our Lady in a place prepared by God for us, looking to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, who for the supreme joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, but, who is now set down at the right hand of the Father on high. We are surrounded as well with a great cloud of witnesses. Many have gone before and have experienced the touch of Jesus upon their lives.

It was "soon after," another event of great significance (see also my paper on, ĎA Call for Compassionate Ministry: The Centurion's Servant'). The centurion's servant had been touched by Jesus' word. Peter's mother was healed. Now, we have this young man and a mother who are touched by Jesus.

Our Lord has a way of bringing stories together that have great significance for us.

Jesus is Compassion, Love, Mercy -- he touches us at the place of sorrows. Thereby, he will bring us to see one who has been touched above all others.

12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her.

The "gate" of the city of the "pasture" is the place of this event, but, I cannot help but reflect that there is another "gate" in mind, if you please. Always, words are used by the Gospel writers to bring to mind the highest meanings and the simple meanings. These paint for us a picture of great meaning.

There was an only son who had died and he was being carried out of the "pasture' to a tomb where the dead are placed in the hope of the resurrection. His mother, the "widow of Nain," is there with the procession. She is very sorrowful, having lost the last person that was cherished by her. The loss of a husband is one thing, but, the loss of a son, an only son, as well, is worse. It was a sorrowful event. All looked on with her and shared symapthy, but, they were powerless to take away her grief.

So great was the grief of this woman.

13 When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep."

How it is so with out Savior, always moved with Compassion, Love, Mercy, for he is all of these in One. He sees the woman, a mother on an only son, and there he has pity for her.

May we not also remember another story of Lazarus, where Jesus wept, and another Mary and Martha were there, sisters to blessed Lazarus?

Here, though, is a mother, chosen amongst all women of the "pasture," to be the recipient of the greatest gift a mother could desire who suffers such a loss, the touch of Jesus in raising her son, her only son, to life again.

Jesus is touched by, and he touches, our infirmities at the point of our need.

And, so, Jesus acts.

14 He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!"

Young man? Jesus was also young, cut off in the flower of his youth by evil men. Yet, Jesus sees the young man, even as he did the centurion's servant, and before that the elderly mother of Peter. He sees and touches young and old, rich and poor, slave and free -- making all one in him.

This mother, this widow, the sorrowful woman looked on and was struck by what she would behold and receive again at the hand of Jesus..

15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

How fittingly it is so, that it should be at the "gate" of the "pasture," that Jesus should raise this only son and give him back to his mother.

It is Jesus who gave.

It is Jesus who gives.

It is the God-Man, our Immanuel, that gave this only son to his mother.

Her sorrows, are a picture of our Lady of Sorrows, were washed from her for the joy that Jesus gave her. How deep, so very deep, were her sorrows. For the joy that was set before our Lord, he endured the Cross to give to us a Son. For unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

Our Lord united another son, John, with our Lady, and, thereby -- with all of us, the sheep of our Lord's pasture.

Here, though, a mother and her only son were reunited.

What a portrait, beloved people of God . . .

16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people."
17 This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

This is as it must be with all of us.

We are with our Lady in the wilderness. We are the people of the pasture of God. We have a great message, and a great event that we have seen with the eyes of our Faith. We have seen a Mother and her Son re-united in the heavens, where there is the great cloud of martyrs for Jesus who have the testimony of Jesus upon their lips. We have seen our Lady assumed into the heavens and crowned with glory and honor with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars, a great wonder indeed.

Can anyone out give themselves to God?

Is it possible to outdo God in grace?

Has not our Lady shown us the greatest grace is to give ourselves to Jesus without reservation and then stand back and see the God who touches us with great graces, because Jesus is Mercy!

Yes -- God has visited his people!

Let us spread the report with all the people of God and proclaim the vision of the resurrected and victorious Christ again with Mary, our Lady, our Mother, the Mother of God, The Gate of the City of God!

What a privilege to see Jesus through the eyes of our Lady of Sorrows in this simple picture of the compassionate act of Jesus toward another only son and a woman who loved that only son. Was not the joy of that woman of Nain satisfied completely beloved of God and the Church that Jesus built?

Surely, this is so in Christ.

Deus et Sanctissima