Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Homily for Sept. 15th, 2016. Our Lady of Sorrows: John 19:25-27.

Decades ago it was common on Good Friday to preach seven sermons based on Jesus= seven last words from the cross. I preached those sermons myself, over half a century ago. The AThree Hours= Agony,@ as it was often called, started at noon and ended at three, traditionally the hour of Jesus= death, with the church bell tolling 33 times, once for each year of Jesus= earthly life. Interspersed between each sermon or meditation was a hymn and one of more prayers, allowing worshipers who could not remain for the full three hours opportunities to come and go. 

We have just heard the third of Jesus’ seven last words: AWoman, behold your son; son, behold your mother.@ The second half of this word from the cross is addressed to Athe disciple whom Jesus loved,@ as he is always called in the Fourth Gospel -- deliberately left anonymous, many commentators believe, so that he can stand for all those whom Jesus loves, ourselves included. It is because of this third word from the cross that Catholics call Mary Aour blessed Mother.@

          We do not pray to Mary B or to any of the saints B in the same way we pray to God. We ask Mary and the other saints to pray for us. If it is right to ask our earthly friends to pray for us, how much more fitting to ask the prayers of our heavenly friends, especially of Mary, given to us by her dying son as our spiritual mother. The Catechism recommends such prayer in the following words: “Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.” (No. 2682)

          As we remember today the sorrows of Jesus’ mother, we pray, once again, the familiar and well loved words: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”