“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (NRSV, Luke 23:34)
When Jesus reached the place where he was to be crucified, the Cross was laid flat on the ground. Stripped of his clothes he lay down on the timber and stretched out his hands to receive the nails.
As he waited for the first blows, he looked around at those who were gathered about him. Close by he saw the soldiers reaching for their hammers while others stood guard to keep a space clear around the Cross. Beyond were the chief priests and rulers, a grin of triumph on their faces, and behind the jostling mob morbidly standing on tiptoe to see the nails struck home.
But there was someone else whom he noticed more than all of these – his holy Mother. In the bitterness of her grief she had come to be with her Son for the last agonising hours of his earthly life. As he looked up into her eyes, her anguish, too great to be concealed, must have called forth from his heart its inexhaustible store of compassion.