Third Word on the Cross: “Behold thy Mother!” – Lenten Meditation

Third Word on the Cross: “Behold thy Mother!”

1st Prelude. Look at Our Lady and St. John at the foot of the cross.

2nd Prelude. Ask for an increase of love for Jesus and Mary.

POINT I. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother.”

CONSIDERATION. His Mother stood by the cross. Here we must pause and consider two admirable and apparently incompatible things: Our Lady’s extraordinary grief, and her heroic courage. It is difficult to conceive how she, the most loving of mothers, could behold her Son nailed alive to the cross, and suffering a three hours’ agony, and remain standing beneath it. Many painters, it is true, have depicted her fainting and overwhelmed at its foot, but without any Scriptural warrant. St. John says explicitly she stood; and the Fathers agree that, standing thus, though, according to the prophecy of Simeon, her whole soul was pierced through as by a sword, she united herself to the sacrifice of her Divine Son.

APPLICATION. This supernatural strength was certainly the effect of a miracle of grace; but was no less also the fruit of her fidelity under all the trials which her faith and constancy had before suffered. God gives His graces in proportion to our correspondence with them. Let us also be generous and steadfast under our more ordinary trials, and we shall be strengthened under greater ones. Look back on your past life, and you will be convinced of this truth.


POINT II. “When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son.”

CONSIDERATION. Admire the calmness of Jesus, who forgets Himself in the midst of His agony, to recommend her to the care of His virgin disciple, who was henceforth to sustain and console her to the end of her life. “Woman, behold thy son!” And at that moment He filled the heart of the beloved St. John full to overflowing with the tenderest and most generous love that ever son felt for this admirable Mother.

APPLICATION. Here our Lord teaches us to rise above our own sorrows, or rather to put them aside and forget ourselves for others. In giving His Mother merely the name of Woman, He would have us understand the less we act by the impulse of merely natural affection, the more we may rely upon His power to supply our needs and upon the protection of the Mother He has given us.


POINT III. “After that, He saith to the disciple: Son, behold thy Mother.”

CONSIDERATION. Our Lord, having cared for His afflicted Mother, bethought Him of His beloved disciple, and wishing to give him a last mark of His love, places Our Lady from henceforth under his protection. “Behold thy Mother” are the words with which He turns His dying eyes on St. John; words full of consolation for us all, for the Fathers unanimously concur in believing that our Lord here used St. John as the representative of all the faithful, and that from this moment He filled the heart of Mary with an overflowing love for mankind, so that her Maternity became, in a certain degree, as unlimited as the Divine Paternity itself.

APPLICATION and COLLOQUY of love, devotion, and confidence in our Blessed Mother.

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