Editor’s note: This is the eighth post in our newest series, Beholding True Beauty, which consists of prayerful reflections on works of sacred art. The series will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month of October. Read the whole series here.
Mary—the cause of our joy—is weeping. Dark clouds cover the sky, the spring flowers are just beginning to fade, evening has come. Mary looks at Jesus, and heavenly light bathes her face as she softly cries. Contemplating the face of her Lord through a veil of tears, her spirit never ceases rejoicing though her heart truly laments.
Jesus sits in light and darkness, his head lowered, holding his hand pierced by a crown of thorns. The finger of God, that drew light from darkness, is bleeding. He is the immortal one, the one who dwells in unapproachable light. But he comes to us in the shadow of death, taking darkness as his companion, walking through the place of sorrows. Shadows obscure his face, but not completely. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Jesus is the light, but he sits with us in the darkness, until day comes and the morning star rises in our hearts.
You’re there too. You’ve been brought close to Jesus by baptism: by the white garment, by the dark blue waters, by the golden laver of regeneration. You’re there with Jesus and Mary, living out earthly sorrow in the presence of heavenly joy, dwelling in light and darkness. The waters of baptism are still flowing in your heart, they remain there forever. Even as the flood waters rise above your neck and your soul feels like it’s sinking into the abyss, the light of Jesus is still in you, working for salvation. Jesus is with you in your sorrow, he’s there in the black night. He’s holding your suffering, carrying it gently in his pierced hand. He’s bringing you into the light, where you will see him face-to-face.
If we are mourning, we can weep with Mary. We can draw close to her cheek. Her tears will mingle with ours, and she will help us to see as she sees. She will help us to gaze upon Jesus. Now, in the night, his face is dark to us, muddled by our veil of tears. Mary helps us to make it through the night. With her, we can stand the darkness. Then, the morning will come, the night will be no more, the Lord will turn our sorrow into joy, and our joy will be complete.
Image: Francisco de Zurbarán, Christ and the Virgin in the House at Nazareth