I had this image recently of Mary standing before the cross with the two other mothers of the men on his right and left. I am not sure why it came but I have held it gently these past few days. Then today on Facebook, a former colleague posted a letter calling for the end of the death penalty. As I read it, all I could see were mothers lined up as their sons were dying. I came back to those three mothers on Calvary and wondered what type of conversation they might have had if one had occurred.
The death penalty was Jesus’ sentence. The two men crucified beside him were referred to as thieves who were condemned justly. Is there ever a time that the death sentence is justified? Most of today’s criminals that are put to death are not white or rich. Somehow the numbers are skewed and heartbreaking to consider. If we journey back in time to those mothers before the cross, what would they have said to each other? Do their words hold any hope for us today?
I see the penitent thief reach out to the Christ and chastise the other one. The mothers watch. Is this the entry point of conversation? Does Mary in turn reach out to each of them, through her own pain? Does she have a word of comfort or mercy for them? Do they have one for her? Do we have one for the world today? I have thought about the mother of the pilot who crashed the plane into the mountain, killing so many. How does she carry on now? She stands before her cross daily now, as do hundreds of mothers whose children died in the tragic event.
Mothers around the world stand before their crosses and are united with the Holy Mother. Today, a Canadian man in Indonesia seemingly wrongfully accused of sexual assault of kindergarten students will learn his fate. The mother of the local janitor who was tortured and then committed suicide in prison in the same case will never see justice done. Injustice happens every single day and we all stand in front of these crosses because an injustice for one is an injustice for all. What conversation might you have with the three women who stand in front of the crosses? What wisdom might they offer you?