"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother..." (Jerusalem Bible, John 19:25)

After the Archangel Gabriel had told the Blessed Virgin that she was to be the Mother of God’s Son, she visited her cousin Elizabeth and there she sang the Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (NRSV, Luke 1:46,47).

And we must be glad for her sake that she did rejoice because her joy was short-lived.  When her holy Son was born and she presented him in the Temple to God, a shadow fell across her life as she heard the ominous prophecy of old Simeon that her Son would be for a sign that would be spoken against.  And a sword would pierce through her own soul also – through her innermost being.

And that shadow, having fallen, did not leave her.  More than once she thought the sword stroke was imminent: as when Joseph roused her in the night to flee to Egypt before Herod’s soldiers arrived in Bethlehem to wipe out all the boys of two years old and under.  Even during his childhood in Nazareth she must have been conscious that one day, sooner or later, something terrible would happen to her Son and she would be there to see it.

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