After yesterday’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, today is followed with the remembrance of Our Lady of Sorrow. To a world that desires good vibes, puts a high value on pleasure – happiness – this would seem to not just go counter to what would seem good marketing but possibly be seen as an obstacle for people. “Catholics are depressing” – some argue, continuing “it’s supposed to be good news.”

Yet we take this day to reflect on the struggles, the trials, the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
– from the moment after the Angel invited her to become the Mother of Jesus and now she had the challenge of trying to explain this to her fiancé Joseph and her family…

– to not finding room in an inn and the less than ideal circumstances of giving birth in a cave, being in a manger with a newborn…

– to the prophecy of Simeon (we heard in today’s Gospel) speaking of how a “sword” would pierce her heart

– a prophecy fulfilled in the other option for today’s Gospel, where Mary is at the foot of the Cross watching her only son die a humiliating, torturous death…

– not forgetting the sorrows she experienced when Jesus was lost in the temple (well Jesus wasn’t lost, He was lost to Joseph and Mary…)

– as well as other sorrows that we can imagine when she sees or hears how Jesus is misunderstood by the crowds in their home of Nazareth, or at the negativity of the different religious leaders of the day that Jesus would encounter.

We do this not to be depressing. In part it’s to help us realize that “good news” does not mean we are going always experience happy, pleasurable things, or good vibes all the time. The Good News was that none of those things “did her in.” The Good News was found in that Mary had faith in the God who had invited her into these amazing, history changing events would somehow make a way when there didn’t seem to be one… that He would “make all things new” when all that was familiar vanished.

-So yes her fiancé Joseph would accept his role in the divine plan, and remain a chaste loving husband and worthy step father to the Son of God, guardian and protector of this Holy Family when a maniacal King Herod wanted to kill the newborn…
– the lack of the world making space for Jesus to be born in, God the Father would transform those humble surroundings of that Holy Night with angelic greetings bringing shepherds to come adore the newborn King – and radiate the night sky with a star that would catch the fascination of men from afar leading them to also come and worship.
-the sword that pierced her heart would be healed in her encountering her son risen from the dead… and eventually experiencing the triumph of that resurrection as she is assumed body and soul into heaven at her death.
Yes, Mary inevitably encountered real sorrow. But they were never lasting sorrows. And that is the Good news for her and for us: God has never and will never abandon us. The key is in following Mary’s example and not abandon Him when we too encounter sorrows, but cling to Him ever more tightly, trusting that what He has done for our mother, He wants to do for each of us as His beloved sons and daughters.