This collect we just read ties together the Blessed Virgin Mary, vocation, and service empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But this day feels like a hard day to be reminded of that.
Mary, on this day, sits at the foot of the cross, and we are reminded of her agony as she watched her son die. We hold her up as the exemplar of saying yes to God, of living into her God-given vocation. But on this day, might she wonder, if only for a moment, if she couldn’t have been spared this grief, this desolation, if only she hadn’t answered the call to serve, if only she hadn’t said yes to God?
This loving mother gazes at the product of her experience in discipleship, and the years flash by. Birth in the most difficult of circumstances, the flight to Egypt to flee danger, and the precocious boyhood years where he knew everything. Now he is a fully grown man, pierced by a spear, hanging on a cross, lifeless.
And I imagine she must cry out at some level- why did you ask this of me? There is no answer.
Would she have said yes to God on that day so long ago, when she was asked to risk everything to conceive this child, now a man dead before her, if she had known this was where it would lead her? There is no answer. “What was it for?,” she might cry out.
I image that the lack of answers, like the Byrd lament we just heard, leaves her in desolation. What answers could satisfy? Sitting at the foot of the cross, she has no idea of the wonder and joy that will come in just a few days, despite the world’s attempts to inflict harm upon this gift of love she bore into it when she said yes to God.
So still, she is there, in grief, at the foot of the cross. A mother and a son. And she did say yes. And there, hanging on the cross is the salvation of the world. And she, and we, can do nothing but lament, and wait, and hope for things yet unseen.
The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk
Meditation for Noon Good Friday, March 30, 2018
St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego