There is an image in the Adoration Chapel this week: an artist’s depiction of the Pietá — but unlike Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, this one portrays Mary looking straight ahead as she cradles Jesus in her arms, holding him so that His face is next to hers.
Her eyes are not downcast as she holds her crucified Son. They are wide open, staring back at the beholder, filled with emotion.
But what emotion, exactly?
Defiance? I can imagine that her inner Mama Bear comes into play here. She grasps her Son’s body and looks straight ahead, daring anyone to take Him from her.
Shock? She has just watched her only Son complete his earthly mission, culminating in a death so horrible that no one would wish it on his worst enemy, and she witnessed it all. Is she numb from the shock of it?
Grief? Surely. Those eyes, partially in shadow from the veil that covers her hair, are deep pools of grief and pain. Her heart has, indeed, been pierced.
Strength? No tears are on her face. She is hanging on, not allowing herself to give in to those other emotions, sitting straight and not crumpling to the ground, holding Jesus and not letting go.
She will have to let go soon enough. She will have to allow Joseph of Arimathea to take Jesus’ body from her for a hurried burial before the sun goes down.
But not yet. Not at this moment.
For now, she holds on — to her Son, to her composure. She looks straight ahead.
But inside, she weeps.
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS