Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stabat Mater Dolorosa

Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

During Lent, we routinely attend the liturgy of the Station of the Cross, and emotionally we sing the “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” hymn. But actually I myself feel uneasy and scared to sing this hymn, since this hymn, which also is a prayer, deals with the great suffering of Mary at the foot of the cross.

If we read the Gospel of John 19:16-27 carefully, we will understand that Jesus gave his mother to us, the Church as our mother, but he did not give us the glorious mother, but the suffering mother. And it is said that the Church, symbolized as “his beloved disciple” accept her in his house. Many theologians preach on the motherhood of Mary in the Church from this passage, but they forget that Christ gave his suffering mother to us.

Brothers and sisters, that pericope of the Gospel reminds us that we have Mary as the suffering Mother. She stood at the foot of the cross, full of tears, watched her son died hang on the cross, the Latin hymn writes: stabat Mater dolorosa, iuxta crucem lacrimosa, dum pendebat fillius. She experienced the great horror, which even the apostles could not endure and flee from. She watched with her own eyes the dead of the Son of God, in the nastiest way of dying on the cross. She asked whether he was the Son of God, and if he was the Son of God why did he die that way? She suffered a lot, as Simeon in the Temple of Jerusalem had prophesied it, a sword pierced her heart deeply. And at the foot of the Cross, she experienced the darkest faith ever. However, the Gospel does not say that she collapsed or run away from that suffering, but she kept standing at the foot of the cross (stabat Mater..), as if she prayed: “Thy will be done, Thy will be done,” although she did not understand it, since she experienced great suffering and the darkest night of her faith. Brothers and sisters, she is the woman of suffering, whom we called mother.

What does this Gospel teach us? It teaches us the value of suffering. In this world that rejects suffering, it is very difficult to talk about suffering, perhaps then we could be marked as masochist or suffer mania. I would like to talk about one aspect of the mystery of suffering, which still is a great mystery.

By suffering we are wounded. This wound is important, since by this wound can be changed to healing, in other words we are called to take part in the suffering of Christ in the cross as Mary has done, in order that we become the wounded healers. The true healer is the wounded healer. How can this be?

Just imagine, if we never experience hunger, we will never have compassion with the hungry. We will just read the paper while sipping our warm milk coffee, and eating our English muffin with ham. And we just comment, “Ah… poor Asian, they should work harder. And pray more that the Kingdom of God come soon on them.” If we never experience the difficulties in family’s life, we will easily say to the troublesome couple, “Hey, Canon Law says that marriage cannot be separated, go home and meditate on this law of the Church.” If we never get wounded, we never understand the pain.

But if we are wounded, we could understand the pain of the others, then we know what is the meaning of compassion, that is, be in the same passion with the other. Then we know what is the meaning of emphaty, that is, to enter and dwell in the pathos of the other. Being a wounded healer does not mean being a person who exhibits their passion and say, “Hey you know, I have experienced the same thing.” No, being a wounded healer means that we are enabled by our own suffering to walk and to strengthen our fellows in walking in the path of the Cross. Remember St. Paul: cry with the one who cry….

Brothers and sisters, remember what the author of the letter to the Hebrews has said that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness and suffering, since he has suffered a lot on the cross, and so his mother Mary. That is why he and his mother really understands our suffering.

Let us pray that we, by taking part of the suffering of the cross and by following his mother, can be the wounded healers.