I want to spend a little time referencing Mary’s contribution to the passion of Christ. In the movie made by Mel Gibson called The Passion of the Christ, the scenes as Jesus is dying on the cross that show Mary are very important. There are three parts that I would like to reference.
The first is Mary kneeling on the ground in front of the cross. Her hands on the ground gather handfuls of dirt and rock. She kneels upright and opens her hands and lets the dirt fall from her hands. This would not have been the normal way someone would have reacted in her day. Instead, it would not be a surprise if she had taken the handfuls of dirt tossed them up into the air and let them land on her head in despair, with wailing and many tears.
This was not Mary’s way of reacting to the hand of God. While her motherly instinct was to be in anguish, she saw and understood exactly what Jesus was doing. And rather than display her anguish, she simply let it go. To me that was one of the most moving scenes in the movie, and there were a lot of moving scenes. But this one has always stood out to me.
A few moments later she is allowed to approach Jesus along with John. She kisses his bloodied feet and as she steps back, you can see her bloodstained lips. And she says through her tears that she wishes she had been allowed to die with him.
The next scene with Mary having any importance in the scene is the image of her holding Jesus’ dead body. It is a scene that was meant to imitate the statue of the Pieta that is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But there is an important point that was made in the film: Mary looks straight into the camera, not to accuse any wrongdoing on our part, but with a pleading look that we do not allow the death of Jesus to have been in vain; that we commit to the faith and in doing so accept the price of our salvation.
As we finish Lent and turn our eyes this weekend on the passion of Christ in the Mass readings, and look forward to Good Friday, we are called to remember the price of our salvation. That price paid by Jesus is why we call this Friday Good.
Again, to give it more specific words, the look that Mary gives in the movie as she holds her dead son seems to be saying “look what he has done for you; can you accept this for yourself?”
It is the question every human being must answer: can you accept what Jesus has done… for you?