We know of Our Lady of Sorrows, of Mary at the foot of the Cross, and of the Pieta, but we do not hear of Our Lady of Gethsemane. What about Mary’s share in Jesus’ agony in the garden of olives? Mary is the “New Eve,” therefore she had a real share in the sufferings of Jesus the “New Adam.” This does not mean that she literally followed Jesus into the garden of Gethsemane, but it does mean that, wherever she was she shared with him the weight of the world’s sin and guilt. She experienced with him the horror of sin and she had an intimate fellowship with him in every aspect of his Passion. As is companion in the work of Redemption, it could not have been otherwise.
When Jesus said, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death,” his Mother’s soul was completely in tune with his sorrow. She knew his soul, his heart his complete devotion and love for the Father. She knew and understood the purpose of his life on earth and the purpose of his death.
When Jesus said, “Wait here and watch,” she did so. She did not sleep but she waited, alert and attentive to is every word. She wept with his every tear, she shared in his loneliness as he faced the awesome justice of an offended God, as he begged, “Father, if it is possible let this cup pass.” She also bowed with him in complete acceptance, “Not my will but yours be done.”
She faced with him the prospect of being handed over into the power of depraved and demonic men who would find twisted pleasure in his torments. With Jesus, she saw beyond the sins of men, discerned their true needs and begged for God’s mercy to catch their falling souls lest they be lost forever.
Mary’s outlook was always partnered with Jesus in his extraordinary love for the Father and for mankind. She shared his sorrow at being betrayed by a much loved friend, abandoned by his chosen circle of apostles, denied by the one he had chosen to lead his church and rejected by the leaders of his own people.
Most of all, the bitterest of Jesus’ sufferings was the certain knowledge that this whole array of pain and ridicule, physical and mental torment, exhaustion, thirst and derision would be in vain for so many people. There would be some who would deliberately choose to be separated from God forever rather than humble themselves before his love and be embraced by his mercy. Many would choose a lonely independence fraught with pain and suffering’s inner torment and hatred rather than accept God’s love and forgiveness. Independence would mean more to them than loving surrender and admission of need.
How did Mary endure such an all-encompassing martyrdom? She endured it the same way her Son did: “Not my will but yours be done.” Since God entered into human history through Mary’s consent freely given, he also redeemed the world through that some freely-given consent.
Mary understands suffering because she endured it, full measure and flowing over, from Gethsemane through Calvary. In every sorrow we experience, we should go to Mary. She will lead us to Jesus’ merciful heart and his all-encompassing love. No one knows Jesus as his Mother knows him. She accompanied him in every aspect of his mission of redemption and she offers compassion and strength to all who come to her.
As members of Jesus’ Mystical Body through baptism we are brothers and sisters of Jesus. Mary is our mother also, and always has a mother’s loving concern for each one of us. Let us go to her and pray: