Mary – comforter of the suffering
Recently I spent a few days with a lady whom I’ve always known as a very kind and understanding person… I knew that she could smile even when she was going through a difficult time. No one outside would even know that she was suffering, because she never went about with a long face. This lady refused to let the situation take control over her; rather she was continuously responding to the situation in a very positive manner. All this made a tremendous impact on me and brought about a great change in me; and this impact was very strong because this lady is my mother. When I realized what my mummy had gone through in life, and saw her still cheerful and kind, never bitter… I found a great transformation coming over me.
This incident gave me a tremendous insight into the role of Mother Mary as the perpetual comforter of the suffering. There are two types of ‘comforting’: one that expresses concern, feels sorry… and the other is when a person comforts us by inspiring and motivating. As a child, my mother comforted me when I cried, when I was sad, and so on. But now as an adult I find my mother comforting me by being a model of inspiration and motivation. So also, my dear friends, we may have come to Mother Mary seeking consolation, seeking a good feeling, or hoping that if we attend the novenas our problems will go away… My dear friends, one thing I can assure you, problems and sufferings will never end; these will always be a part of our life. What can change is the way we handle our sufferings and problems. So can we now, as grown up mature people look to our Mother Mary for an inspirational comforting – such that looking at the life of Mary we will draw motivation for responding positively to our life situations.
Mary’s life was full of troubles: for no fault of her own, she was carrying a child even before she was married. Even though it would have been more convenient to terminate the pregnancy, she chose to take a life-giving approach; then she had no place to give birth to her child – giving birth with all our modern facilities in nursing homes is painful enough, how much more would it be to give birth in an unclean stable in the midst of animals; then king Herod was upset and so she had to escape to Egypt – as a refugee in a foreign land life must have been terrible. All through her life she had to suffer, as her son Jesus suffered rejection and ridicule, and finally she saw her innocent son murdered for doing good. Yet in spite of it all she comes across to us as a lady full of love and concern, always reaching out to others, rushing to help those in need. In the midst of all her sufferings she could say ‘my soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior’. In spite of the setbacks she had suffered especially with the death of her son, she did not give up on life; she went about bringing together the discouraged disciples – she was a community organizer who brought the disciples together, discussed and prayed about the various issues facing them. And because of her efforts, the apostles experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and went out to build a New World of Love, Justice and Peace.
Looking at the life of Mother Mary, this is one thing that stands out: she fulfilled Ps 84: 7-8 : “as they pass through the bitter valley, they make it a place of springs… they go from strength to strength till they appear before God.” Mother Mary has gone through the suffering in a very positive manner; and so down the centuries she has been the inspiration and comforter of millions of suffering people, and for all ages to come she will be an inspiration. That is why Mother Mary is called a PERPETUAL comforter of the suffering. My prayer is that all of us may see in Mary a model of inspiration and comfort, which will lead us deal positively with our problems and sufferings. Thus as we go through the bitter valley of sufferings, we will make it into a place of springs.
- Fr Mario Mendes
Date: September 21, 2013