Maybe you’re the mom in the grocery line frantically trying to keep one kid’s hands off the candy bars while the other kid erupts into howls from the cart, and feeling the judgmental stares of people behind you… people who see the disruption, but who don’t see you trying. Maybe you’re the teacher who hasn’t been to the washroom all day for trying to keep your students safe and learning in a rowdy classroom, and just got yelled at by the parent of a child who got called names during math class… a parent who sees something you missed, but who doesn’t see you spending everything you have. Sometimes, as parents or teachers, mothers or spiritual mothers, we feel unseen. And we feel unseen because, to some extent, we often are unseen. And being invisible hurts.
But as we meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent, we come upon one station in particular that assures us that, as mothers and spiritual mothers, we are seen.
The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-31). It’s one of the more cryptic episodes of the Gospels, yet it evokes a powerful range of emotions in people, from confusion to clarity, from comfort to fear. For mothers and spiritual mothers, it is a passage that speaks volumes of how God sees us.
During the time of Jesus, women were not generally regarded with as much deference or dignity as God had intended for them. Jesus was constantly breaking the societal expectations of his day by how he regarded women, from conversing with them alone by wells, to allowing them to sit at his feet among his male disciples; from taking notice of widows, to intervening in the treatment of women who sinned; from calling a little girl back from the dead, to choosing a woman to be the first apostle of his Resurrection. He saw women, during a time they were largely unseen in society. And he saw them as truly and purely as God had intended from the beginning of the world.
During those last exhausting and agonizing hours of his life, he reminded a group of mothers, one last time, that they were seen.
Whether the women weeping and lamenting were women he knew, or professional wailers (those who loudly mourned as a token of respect at funerals, etc.), we do not know. But either way, no one would have been paying them much attention. They were background noise, lending to the atmosphere, at most taking up valuable space in the crowd. But Jesus didn’t consider them background players in all this. In fact, he considered them of so much importance that he stopped his ascent to Calvary to tell them something! And with his words, cryptic and dire as they may seem to us, he revealed something of his heart. He revealed that in his ascent to Calvary, in his preparation for the Cross, he had them and their sufferings on his heart. He saw each of them individually, and each of their relationships with their children individually, and he let them know it mattered to him. He let them know he knew their struggle. And he was bringing it to the Cross.
He brought yours there, too.
So this Lent, as you pray with the Stations of the Cross, take some time to meditate especially with the Eighth Station. Stand before an image of the Station and read the text from Luke 23. Put yourself in the place of one of those women. How does it feel when, in that whole throng of people, Jesus’ eyes fall on you? What is the hidden struggle you are facing that he sees and is asking you to give to him, so that he can take it to the Cross to be redeemed?
Let yourself be seen by him today. Meet his gaze with your own. Give him your burdens, and accompany him to the Cross to offer him the comfort of your love as he redeems them all… as he redeems you.
by Sr. Orianne Dyck, novice
image by Aliyah Jamous for Unsplash