Our Lady was sobbing. The sword had pierced her through. She wept for her son, who was going to die.
We are soon to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. But since September, I have been contemplating Holy Mother under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. As I recently prayed the fourth glorious mystery of the rosary, Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, I considered how the woman “clothed with the sun” in Revelation 12 gave birth to a male child and then fled into the desert (verse 6). How many trials and penances did Mary go through in her earthly life! I asked her to take me into one of her sorrows.
In between the Hail Marys, I felt the sword pierce her through. Mary had just heard that Jesus was arrested and she wept for her son, who was going to die. But in the experience, the son she wept for was not Jesus. It was Judas.
The Church does not make a claim of what happened to Judas. How could we know whether he repented just before the moment of his self-inflicted death? We don’t know. But in my experience at that moment, Mary’s heart was wracked with grief.
Jesus was going to die. But He warned His followers several times that would happen. And Mary, although grieving this, also remembered He said He was going to be raised on the third day. Mary believed her Son would return as He said.
But Mary did not have that same assurance for Judas. I felt her hearing the news of Jesus’ arrest and the account of how it happened: Judas had turned Jesus in to the authorities and taken the money in greed. He led the soldiers with torches and weapons to Jesus in an act of betrayal. And then realizing the evil he had committed, he succumbed to despair, throwing the money back and killing himself.
It was a terrible grief for her child Jesus to die on earth, but an entirely different kind of grief for her child Judas to be slated for the destruction of the second death.
I felt Mary’s great love for her son, Judas. He was not her earthly son, but he was her spiritual son. Her love for him and all of Jesus’ closest friends was so great. I felt every bit of the tenderness of the way a mother holds her son and beholds his beauty. I felt her awe, her praise of the Father for creating Judas. Judas was God’s beloved son. He had many wonderful gifts. And I felt the sword pierce Mary’s heart at the thought of never holding him again, never touching his face, never hearing him speak. She loved him so much.
Jesus was coming back. She would hold him again. But not Judas.
Our Lady, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, told the children that many souls were going to Hell because there was no one to pray for them. How much more urgently does she press that invitation to my heart to ask that wayward souls be converted. How much more urgently do I feel Mary’s desire for souls to choose God.
One hundred years after Mary made that declaration, we are still invited to pray for conversions, to make sacrifices large and small for souls. We are still invited to pray a daily rosary, to pray for the effectiveness of evangelization, to pray for the needs and intentions of the Holy Father. We are invited to love those who may not act in a way that is lovable, but were created in love to encounter and choose Love.
What a gift it is that we believe. What a gift it is that God brought us into His Holy Church. We did not merit this. And there are other souls who await the same mercy. It is a mystery that God should want us to help in that labor of salvation. So, we are called to share the bounty given to us, to lead other souls to Heaven and alleviate the wounds of Mary in her heart. Let us pray with great fervor and love for those in most need of God’s mercy.