The mother of Jesus is always there
One of the mysteries of the Gospel is that the Easter stories do not tell us about what happened with Blessed Mother Mary.
In our liturgy during these weeks of Easter, we recall Our Lord’s dramatic encounter with Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, how he appeared to the apostles who had locked themselves in the upper room, and how he revealed himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
St. Paul would later write that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people on one occasion before ascending into heaven.
But we have no record of an Easter encounter between Jesus and his mother. She was with him at the foot of his cross, along with St. John and St. Mary Magdalene. But after that, the Scriptures are silent.
And this mystery makes us wonder and reflect on God’s purposes.
Our Filipino brothers and sisters have a beautiful popular devotion that they call “Salubong” (“The Encounter”). Gathering before dawn, they relive what they imagine was the meeting of the risen Jesus with his Blessed Mother on the first Easter morning.
The women come from one direction carrying a statue of Mary who is covered in a black veil. From the opposite direction, men come carrying a statue of a risen Jesus.
Their two processions meet in front of the church. There, a child who is dressed like an angel removes Mary’s veil of mourning and the people enter the church with joy to celebrate Easter Mass.
Many saints and mystics have reflected on what this Easter encounter might have been like, believing that before Jesus appeared to others, he wanted first to see his mother.
A 14th-century work, “Meditations on the Life of Christ,” imagined Jesus and Mary falling to their knees as they met:
“Then they arose with tears of joy, she embraced him, pressed her face to his, and held on tightly, falling into his arms as he eagerly supported her. Later, when they were sitting down together, lovingly and carefully she looked him all over: at his face, and at the wounds in his hands, and throughout his entire body. … His mother rejoiced, ‘Blessed be your Father, who returned you to me!’ ”
What makes this scene so moving is how realistic it is. Mary is a mother who watched her Son die; we can imagine her emotions as she finds out now that he is alive.
It reminds me of that story in the Gospel when Jesus meets a funeral procession that is carrying the only son of a widow to his grave. Moved with compassion, Jesus touches the casket and the dead boy sits up and begins talking. The story concludes: “And he gave him back to his mother.”
On that first Easter morning, Jesus gave himself back to his mother.
But before that, in his dying words on the cross, he had given his mother to us, saying to his disciple, “Behold, your mother.”
Mary is the mother of all of us who believe in her Son’s resurrection, who trust in his promises to those who love him and follow his path for our lives.
There is a simple sentence from the Gospel: “And the mother of Jesus was there.” This is a beautiful truth: wherever Jesus is, his mother is not far from him.
Mary was there at his conception and birth. She was there to present him in the Temple, and to help him grow from child to man in those hidden years at Nazareth.
She was there at the wedding in Cana, where he began his public ministry, turning water into wine at her request. We get a glimpse of her, too, in the crowds while her Son was preaching.
And she was there, keeping her station at the foot of his cross.
Though we have no account of her meeting Jesus after his resurrection, the Acts of the Apostles tells us that “Mary the mother of Jesus” was there at the birth of the Church, in the upper room at Jerusalem, praying with the apostles for the Holy Spirit to come down at Pentecost.
This is the last mention of the historical figure of Mary in the New Testament. It tells us everything we need to know.
St. Pope John Paul II once said, “Where she is, her Son cannot fail to be.”
She is our mother and she brings us to her Son, and she brings her Son to us. Always. This is the constant teaching of the saints: “We go to Jesus — and we return to him — through Mary.”
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
In this month of Mary, let us ask her to be a mother to us, to bring us back to her Son, that we might love him more deeply and live more faithfully the new life that he gives us by his resurrection.