March 30, 2007

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Reflections on Mary for Palm Sunday

Sean Gallagher What might have been the ponderings of Mary’s heart when her son seemed to enter Jerusalem in triumph?

Since she was at the foot of the cross just days later, Mary may have witnessed the crowd giving her son a royal welcome.

Perhaps she thought she was seeing the fulfillment of the angel’s prophecy she had heard decades before: “… the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33).

In recalling these glorious words, would Mary have smiled? What mother would not want to see her child rise to such heights?

Perhaps she would have nodded when the crowds cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel” (Jn 12:13).

But if Mary could have seen her son, I suspect any joy that she might have felt would have quickly faded.

Parents can be very attentive to small things in their children: facial expressions, the tone of their voice, body language, even the way they breathe.

I suspect that if Mary saw Jesus coming into Jerusalem that day, she would have seen in these small things a shadow of sadness over him as he heard and watched the people’s praises.

Of course, Jesus would have known the fickleness of the crowd and that their cheers would soon turn to jeers.

If Mary would have seen this in her son that day, perhaps then her heart would have turned to another prophecy given to her long ago by Simeon in that very city:

“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against, and a sword will pierce through your own soul also that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed”

(Lk 2:34-35).

Would it then have occurred to Mary that this crowd that was praising her son would, in just a few days, be speaking against him? How close was that sword that was going to pierce her soul?

Perhaps a cloud of anguish may have come over her, too, at that moment.

Beyond achieving worldly success and hearing the praises of the people, parents want their children to be happy.

Mary, that day, would have known that her son wasn’t happy. And, perhaps to make matters worse, she would have known that there was nothing she could do about it. The hour that she had heard him so mysteriously refer to at the wedding at Cana was now at hand.

But the saving grace in this time of trial for Mary was her trust that God was offering her, her son and the entire world a happiness that far transcends the fleeting delights of this world.

She, who long ago had said in faith, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word”

(Lk 1:38), was about to have that faith put to a test beyond her imagination.

But she, who was “full of grace,” withstood the worst that the evil of this world laid upon her and experienced the first fruits of heaven’s happiness when Jesus, her beloved son, rose from the tomb.

All that Mary experienced in those days from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to his Passion, death and ultimate resurrection is shared in many small ways by parents as they watch their children grow and have their own trials and triumphs.

Parents, trust in God, like Mary did, to lead you and your children through them all to the happiness that he has in store for us. †

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