does love require?
The face of Jesus cradled in the hand of Mary is an icon of
the unity that bonds souls in times of shared pain. There is a oneness
here that is above and beyond the biology of birth. There is no distance
here, only a melding of hearts that is beyond anything merely physical.
Now, he knows, they are bearing together the beginning of a whole new world. The fourth station of the cross teaches us the freedom that comes with
real love. Jesus and Mary meet under the worst of circumstances. He has
become an enemy of the state, an outcast from the synagogue.
She is a
widow left alone in a male world without the sustenance of her only son
and no visible means of support. Both of them, in a way, are condemned to
death. But she does not beg him to change his life for her sake, she does
not spend herself in self-pity and he does not tailor his life given for
others to give only to her. At first, the reality of that jars the soul a bit. Shouldn’t he live his
life to please her? Shouldn’t she demand from him his conversion to the
ways of the world around him, for his sake, of course, but for hers, as
well? Isn’t that what good sons, good parents, good friends, good lovers
The answer is yes only if we believe that our children belong more to
us than to God and only if we believe that anyone—our teachers, our
parents, the people we love in life—has more claim on our souls than God
does. The answer is yes only if we think that love requires molding a
person to ourselves rather than changing ourselves, giving ourselves, so
the good of the other is realized. In this case mother and son love one
another enough to respect the place of God in both their lives.