Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the [wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25
I love to listen to Harry Connick, Jr.'s version of "Ave Maria." I keep it on my phone all year long and often loudly play it in my car when I need to breathe deeply and find a calm place, even in the middle of summer. I love the simplicity of the piano in this version, and Harry's voice is like butter. Or velvet. Or buttered velvet. Whatever. It's that good.
Today I was at urgent care for Keaton's ankle (again), and while we waited I continued reading Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies. The novel is about four sisters in the Dominican Republic during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship. I've heard about it for years, and I'm really enjoying it.
The sisters are Catholic, one of them devoutly so. Today I read this passage which reminded me of my favorite "Ave Maria" and led me to today's Advent reflection:
"We knelt there in that hot little rectory, and we prayed to the Virgencita. She had clung to Jesus until He told her straight out, Mama, I have to go about My Father's business. And she had to let him go, but it broke her heart because, though He was God, He was still her boy."
I often think of Mary and what it must have been like to be a parent to Jesus. The King. His youth would have been challenge enough. My 11 year old thinks he knows everything. I can't imagine having an 11 year old who really does know everything! Watching him minister amid persecution and doubters must have been deeply, heart-breakingly painful. The most important people of the day tried to trick him and trap him. Even his closest friends betrayed him. She watched while he was put to death for crimes he did not commit. Can you even imagine watching your own son go through this? All the while trying to believe in your heart that it was God's will? It's a place so dark I can't even go there in my imagination.
Yet Mary did it. She stood by her son, God's son. She endured.
Today's prayer is for the moms. Thank you, God, for giving us mothers to hold our hands when we're little and befriend us and stand by us as we grow older. May the moms who are currently watching their children suffer find peace and comfort in God's will. May the moms who have lost their children find joy today despite their broken hearts. May we all find the endurance to surrender our children to God's will and to lead them always to the love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross. Amen.