Fourth Station

Jesus meets his Mother

From the Gospel according to Luke (2:34-35)

Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

1992 073 005 V0001George Tooker (American, 1920–2011), Drawings for “The Stations of the Cross,” 1984, Pencil on tracing paper. Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Gift of the artist. 1992.073.005


A mere forty days after giving birth, Mary carefully bundled up her precious infant and braced her tender, healing body for a trip to Jerusalem. The family made its way to the Temple so that Mary and Jesus could participate in sacred Jewish rituals; Mary underwent a postpartum purification and Jesus, as the couple’s first-born son, was formally dedicated to God. 

Much to Mary and Joseph’s surprise, they met someone who prophesied what Jesus’s and Mary’s lives would entail, highlighting both the glorious and the sorrowful mysteries. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel conveniently left out all of the heartache Mary would endure as the mother of the Son of God. Simeon is the first person in Luke’s gospel to illuminate this truth. 

Mary had approximately thirty-three years to ponder and live Simeon’s prophecy. She had a very long time to imagine the various shapes that the inevitable sword might take. I wonder how she wasn’t consumed by paralyzing fear and anxiety every day of those thirty-three years. 

As she beheld her son’s suffering, how could Simeon’s words not have replayed in her mind? What a brutal full-circle moment. It is a miracle that only love could manifest that Mary was able to stand at the foot of her son’s cross, look unwaveringly at the sword as it pierced her soul, and accompany Jesus—her beloved, her miracle—unto his last breath.

In this period of waiting, when those of us in the United States anticipate the peak of COVID-19 hitting across the country, I pray that Mary might serve as our exemplar. Like her, may we choose faithful trust over bleak despair, and attentive accompaniment over resigned detachment. May we have the courage to embrace the entirety of reality with eyes and hearts wide open.

– Angie Hollar, Rector of Breen-Phillips Hall

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