04 April 2014

Hope in the Resurrection - Mama Mary's fearless love & hope exposed in Michaelangelo's La Pieta

We're approaching the 5th week of Lent, where the Liturgy invites us to reflect on the Resurrection. I was so so blessed, during my short live-in at Carmel, to spend a day meditating on Michaelangelo's La Pieta. Our bodies teach and express a lot about us, and our relationship with God. An in fact, there is a wonderful theology in our bodies. In a very visual way through La Pieta sculpture, Mary taught me, by the theology of her body, something about loving fearlessly, and hoping in the Resurrection. Let's begin by remembering that this work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. So she has already been through all the things a mother should never have to go through.

Mary offers Jesus to us

Despite Jesus' Passion and Death, the look on Mary's face is not the look of someone experiencing desolation, heartbreak or fear. It is a look of trust and fearlessness. Just how much she loves God and trusts Him inspires me to approach God's Will for me with her essence of acceptance. She is not angry with God or possessive of His Greatest Gift to us - His and her Son, Jesus. She doesn't clutch Jesus to her breast, as I would imagine a Mother who has just lost her child (no matter what age) would. Instead, she offers Him to us in confidence and strength. A strength founded on her relationship with not only Our Father, but Jesus Himself, in the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity is her Rock, Stronghold, Foundation... and this brings her to offer Jesus to us fearlessly. In her love, rooted in the Trinity, Jesus could quite easily slide off her lap. How gracious her offering to us little ones! And yet, she leans back, as if to say "My God above, here is Your Beloved Son - He is totally Yours." How much this inspires me to give Jesus to the world in such a co-directional way Mary does. What a great joy it would be for us to do as Mary does, with her strength, and her love. I believe every soul in the world ought to be given the chance to receive Jesus from her loving, motherly arms, because she offers Him to us perfectly! She points me to the right hand of Jesus, that even in death, looks to be clinging to the fabric of her clothing, as if to say that death has not separated them entirely  - such was their union. 

Mary cares for Jesus' lifeless body for a reason

Mama Mary's faith in the Resurrection shines radiantly to us. Her raised right knee exposes Jesus' body to us as something so precious still... worthy of treasuring still. She cares for His body in how she holds him; and how she holds Him is with such great belief that His body must be carefully dealt with because it is needed - essential - to the Resurrection. Only she had this fearless trust in God's plan for us all: His plan of the Resurrection of His Son.

Mary is always protected

She was given the freedom to be mother to Jesus because she had the best protector: St. Joseph. But during this scene, St. Joseph was no longer on earth to protect her or Jesus. At my disheartened feelings that Mary was completely singled, a widowed outcast, I realised with great hope that Our Father had provided and entrusted her to an earthly protector... for she was entrusted to the care of St. John. True believers in the Resurrection are chosen especially to trust in God ever more openly and generously, because they have the assurance of divine protection. God, in His magnificent Providence, never fails to provide holy protection for us. 

Mary is counter-cultural

After all that had happened throughout Jesus’ Passion, and death, Mary didn't fear the jeering, mocking or the ridicule from onlookers to come. It seems she had not a care for the world's opinion of this event that all of Heaven and Sheol would be all in a kerfuffle about. And yet, she looks as though she cares so much for the world, that she is willing to remain faithful in this disclosed secret of the Resurrection.

Mary ponders love that costs

Mary's pondering heart bleeds invisibly from the sword that has pierced it, but she, who is fearless, shows no outward sign of the honour that she has for this sword. Nothing in the Pieta is about her, despite all the activity or movement coming from her body. What does her heart ponder now, but pure love? The sword pierces her heart so that God's love can pour out through her, the Love that is on her lap... the love also within her that gives us hope, and encourages us to increase our belief in the Resurrection. Her hope is not a hope of desperation...

Mary teaches me to Hope in His promises

Her downcast face points me to the Hope that comes down, rather than my human hope that seeks to look up. She looks down with fearless hope in the Father's Will for the Spirit of Jesus to rise Him up once more - and so it is not a look of sorrow or desolation. It is a look that signals to me that Hope comes down to meet me, to bring me out of any depths of desolation I experience. In her charity, she has exposed the Hope in a situation that seems completely hopeless, and inspires me not be afraid now because Hope is coming down to meet me. The fulfilment of this hope all depends on my response to it in all the situations of my life. Mary is one who loves so fearlessly because she was confident in God's promises, full of faith and trust that all will go according to His plan.

Our responses

As long as we believe, trust and give everything of ourselves in love towards the Resurrection, we don't need to be afraid of the tough times, the moments of desolation, the feelings of abandonment from God, periods of grief, experiences of darkness, desperation and hopelessness, and most of all, any fear that we allow to take over our capacity to give, live and love. God conquers our fears with the Love of the Resurrection. But believing in the Resurrection is something that we do every single day, and embrace it into our way of life. It's not easy, but it is possible. Jesus has given us Mary, whose example we follow. 

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

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