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Follow Christ With Mary to the Commending

He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19:26).

Liturgical Readings of the season from the votive Mass of the Lenten season: ‘The Commending of the Blessed Virgin Mary’

When Jesus was lifted up, the small band was at the foot of the cross. Scripture records the memory of the moment when Jesus drew to himself two persons who were to be particularly drawn into his redemptive act — Mary and the beloved disciple. The preface of the Mass, the commending, sees the beloved disciple as a representative for all of those who follow the Lord.

At the foot of the cross of Jesus,
by his solemn and dying wish,
a deep bond of love is fashioned
between the Blessed Virgin Mary
and his faithful disciples:
the Mother of God is entrusted to the disciple
as their own mother,
and they receive her
as a precious inheritance from their master.
She is to be forever
the mother of those who believe,
and they will look to her
with great confidence in her unfailing protection.
She loves her Son in loving her children,
and in heeding what she says,
they keep the words of their master.

Mary and the disciple are the first of Christ’s followers to be commended and commissioned. As the commentary for the fourth Marian Lenten Mass states: The Church sees the words of Jesus as a “special gift, by which Christ the Lord entrusted to his Virgin Mother all his disciples as her children (Leo XIII, Octobri mense: AAS 24 [1891-1892] 195).” The commentary continues:

It is primarily God who is glorified, for making “a home for the Blessed Virgin in the Church as the joyful mother of children” (Entrance Antiphon, cf to Psalm 113:9).

This act of commending is part of the mystery of Christ’s Passion and the Virgin’s co-suffering; the liturgy therefore refers to the Blessed Virgin as one who stood by the cross and tenderly looked on the wounds of her Son, whose death she knew would redeem the world, and it places on her lips the words of the apostle: “I endure all for the sake of the elect, so that they too may achieve salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (Communion Antiphon, 2 Timothy 2:10).

Our Lady also was entrusted by Christ to the loving care of the beloved disciple: “To the Virgin John, Christ, dying on the cross, entrusted his Virgin mother” (Liturgy of the Hours, 27 Dec, Antiphon 2 at morning prayer). In John, Christ made all his disciples living signs of his own love for her.

Mary and John, then, are entrusted to each other, to love and care for one other. This is their commission. The very bond that binds them is not a bond only between two. It is a bond of the two to Jesus Christ, whose commission they fulfill. It remains Jesus who “draws all the universe to himself.” He does this in the liturgy and in life. He draws us and sends us to the daily offering of our own lives, which shall be a magnet drawing all to Christ.

In the Marian liturgy, we pray:

Lord God,
let this sacred table increase our filial love,
for here we are nourished
by the body and blood of Christ,
who when dying on the cross
delivered his spirit into your hands
and entrusted us to his Virgin Mother as her children.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

– Excerpted from Lenten Weekly Meditations by Sr. M. Jean Frisk, I.S.S.M. included on the All About Mary website.

Image: Detail of “Crucifixion” by Patrick Pye. From the Marian Library Art and Artifacts Collection.

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