Continuing with our examination of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which are meditated in the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa, today we discuss The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross.
The place where our Lord was crucified is known as Calvary or “the place of the skull” (Aramaic – Golgotha). It was on the outskirts of Jerusalem and was a disused rock query shaped like a skull. It was the primary location for criminal executions performed by the Romans as well as the sanitation dump for the city at the time.
The crucifixion is the total summary of the life and death of Jesus Christ –
The seamless tunic that Our Lord worn and was stripped of him before he willingly lay upon the cross represents the unity of the Church. It’s the same unity that Jesus asked for in John 17:20-26. The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle, the gushing of blood and water from the side of Jesus reconnects us with the Wedding Feast at Cana. The blood and water represent the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist. It is through these two sacraments that individuals become members of the Church.
When Jesus thirsts on the cross it harkens us back to John 4 – The Samaritan Woman at the Well. It is here that we see Jesus isn’t only interesting in saving the Jews, but he is looking to save all souls. Those very last words of Jesus (vs. 30) on the cross display for us that he is truly dying. He will eventually send the Holy Spirit to the Church, a promise he made numerous times in the scriptures.
Lastly, we see that before his death Jesus gives the Blessed Mother to St. John. The famous words of Jesus while suffering on the Cross-to Mary and John establish for all of humanity the relationship that we would have with Her for all time. At the point when Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your mother”, symbolically through the disciple John, Mary becomes the Spiritual Mother for all humanity. She is the spiritual gift personally given by Jesus Christ himself to every human person – believer or non-believer. The “beloved disciple” from that moment on takes Mary into his home and treats her as his own mother.
We too must invite Mary into our “homes” and allow her to be our mother. The devotion the Catholic Church has to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed from the households of Saint John.
The display or “title” over the head of Jesus proclaims that he is the Universal King and Christ. Written in multiple languages (Latin, Hebrew, and Greek), it signifies that the universal world that made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem could read it. It affirms that words of Jesus to Pontius Pilate from John 18:37 – “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”
Although Mary does not endure a physical suffering in the way our Lord does, she does suffer spiritually with him as he makes his way to the Cross. She is the Sorrowful Mother walking and standing with her Son. Pope St. John Paul II says in Salvifici Doloris,
“…It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming of her Son. And the words which she heard from His lips were a kind of solemn handing-over of this Gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the whole community of believers.”
For more on the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross, please read the following blog posts –
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. Ignatius Press, 2010.
The Navarre Bible – The New Testament Expanded Edition. Four Courts/Scepter, 2008.