June 2, 2021 (Edward J. Barr) –Every First Friday of the month brings us a unique opportunity to reflect on the selfless love that was on display on Good Friday. While the love of Christ’s salvific act cannot be fully replicated by His followers, it was modeled in the actions at the foot of the cross, where the Blessed Mother, Saint John, and Saint Mary Magdalene stood in humble service to honor our savior during the crucifixion. Why did only three remain with Jesus? Only a week earlier the crowds were chanting, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” when Jesus entered Jerusalem. What about the apostles? The disciples? Those whom Jesus healed and fed throughout his ministry? They faded away when the danger of following Him became too real.
We know the sorrows the Blessed Mother experienced during her life. Watching her son’s passion must have been the worst. It wasn’t a one-time shock; rather, a series of horrific affronts against her son. She saw the violence He experienced during his passion, starting on Holy Thursday. She knew that the power of the Empire and that of her religious leaders was against Him and all who were connected to Him. Yet she stayed by His side. She walked the way of the Cross with Him and stood at His feet on Calvary. She was both His mother and the model disciple.
One can imagine how a mother’s devotion could have blessed Mary with the courage to stand by Her son. Yet, what about St. John? He was a young man, a known member of Jesus’ inner circle. The only apostle that stayed by Jesus until the end. John faced the danger of the crowd and the authorities. Is it any wonder he is called “the beloved disciple?” A faithful lover never abandons the beloved. John never abandoned Jesus. In return, he was blessed. We know through his writings that John looked forward to the beatific vision. Yet, he was granted a long life as the model adopted son of the father. He was the only apostle not to suffer martyrdom. Was that another gift for his faithfulness?
St. Mary Magdalene is the third member of the faithful three. She was the recipient of a spiritual healing. Unlike most of us who are blessed yet still reject the fullness of the Gospel, she remained focused on eternal life, which is Jesus Christ. The crowds may have felt pity for the Blessed Mother and saw John as a young misguided youth. But Mary? Some may have known her past as a sinner. Yet nothing deterred her from standing by Our Lord.
What was it that caused these three to ignore the slings and arrows of the world to focus solely on their Lord? It was Jesus, the source of our salvation. It was love, the love of the Father who sent the Son who would rise in the Spirit on Easter morning. They allowed the grace that God offers to all of us to fill their soul with love. Their gift is our gift, yet few can replicate their faithfulness. By uniting themselves to Christ they transcended this world (Kronos) and entered the realm of love that governs all (Kairos). Their love was greater than their pain and fear. By simply loving Jesus they were brought into Trinitarian love. Through that love, they overcame the powerful human emotions that weighed so heavily upon other disciples. They simply had less fear and more love.
We are all called to make a similar decision in this time of fear and confusion. The challenges we face all require the same response made by the faithful three on that Good Friday long ago. Only pure love can cast out all fear. A pure love that recognizes that the God of the universe died for us and wishes for us to join Him in eternal life. In our culture today Man seeks to kill God. To eliminate Him from the public square. To use political, legal, and other means to crush those who remain faithful to Christ and His Church. Our response should be the same as the faithful three who saw Man Kill God, yet remained faithful to the end. It is the only sane choice to make.
A spiritually fruitful devotion to remember both Jesus’s gift to us and the faithful model of the three saints who remained at the foot of the cross is the Guard of Honor.
Edward J Barr is an attorney, an intelligence officer, and a university faculty member. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)