• Sarah Raad


“And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).

The Virgin at the Foot of the Cross (Jean Joseph Weerts)

During the latest lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our television broke down. When that happened, the very first thing that I did was hunt down the sales receipt to determine whether the television was still covered by the warranty guarantee. Unluckily for us, the guarantee had lapsed, and we needed to hunt for a new television…

I was reflecting on this problem of the guarantee when we were first allowed to return to the Church to celebrate Mass after the latest COVID-19 lockdown. During the early morning weekday Mass, the children and I were guaranteed entry due to the lifting of restrictions, but we were not really guaranteed a comfortable seat. You see, on that first morning back in the Church, there was no room for us to sit in pews with carpeted floor inside the Church and so, my children and I sat – most gratefully – in the Baptismal chapel to the right-hand side of the Church.

There was really no problem at all with that part of the Church, and the only real inconvenience was that it was difficult to see the altar (which is partially obstructed by pillars from that part of the Church) and there are only hard tiles to kneel on rather than soft carpet.

And so, as I knelt there during the Mass and said my prayers, my knees felt a little uncomfortable. And as I was thinking of that discomfort, I reflected on the discomfort of Christ – not the discomfort of His entire body – just the pain in His Holy knees.

You see, Christ fell THREE times on His way to Calvary while carrying His own Cross upon His back, while He was being beaten and spat on and abused and tortured and scourged… Christ fell three times.

And as I imagine what those falls must have felt like, I think very much about the Holy Knees of Christ.

About eighteen months ago – when I was trying to teach myself to ride a bicycle, which I am still unsuccessful with to this day – I fell off my bike straight onto my right knee. Let me just say – that was a big fall. It was in fact, probably the biggest fall I have ever endured in my entire life. I clearly remember thinking that I would faint from the pain at the time that I fell.

Now, eighteen months later, my knee is not quite right and when I lean on it, I feel a little twinge that reminds me that once I fell. And so it is, that each time I am required to lean on that knee – which to be honest it not often – I think of Christ on His way to Calvary…

Did my Beloved fall directly onto His Knees? Carrying the Cross over his Shoulder, did His Knees bear the full brunt of the falls with His weight and the weight of the Cross? Did He feel faint from pain after He fell? Did the shock of the falls make Him retch? How did He stand Himself back up again? Did someone help Him or did they only jeer? Did He dislocate His shoulder against the Cross as He fell under its weight trying to bear up using the knees that He so damaged not once – but THREE TIMES?

Did anyone help Him? Did anyone pity Him? Did anyone look at Him – as a Man with dignity – much less as God the Son?

Was He totally alone – this God of ours?

Well… Though I do not know the answers to many of those questions, I know that there is an answer to the last one… For I know that His Blessed Mother walked beside Christ as a witness to His suffering – and through that loving witness she suffered with Him.

Scott Hahn says, “Every sacrifice involves an act of faith… The sacrifice of Christ is an act of love.”

For though in the world there may have been worse suffering, there was never any greater love than that of Christ Crucified!

And Our Blessed Mother – the MASTERPIECE of the Creator – walked that sacrificial road of love for LOVE of us, beside her Son…

And Our Lady is God’s masterpiece, because Our Blessed Mother, was a human ABOVE the angels. Like all the angels, Our Lady was conceived – which is another way of saying created – without sin. This means that she was created to go beyond the Fall of humankind and beyond the limitations of the human soul.

In the past when I have reflected on the sinlessness of the Immaculata, I have thought to myself – how easy it was for her – She who was created without sin… Having been created without sin it was somehow easier for her to chose not to sin.

But now – upon reflection – I am not so sure… After all, Our Blessed Mother was not the only sinless soul created. Others were created without sin as well… You have only to think of Lucifer – Prince among the angels – created without sin. And yet, that sinless creation did not prevent the prince of the angels from becoming the master of darkness through sin…

For Our Blessed Mother had a choice as to whether or not she would honour the guarantee of sinlessness that Our Lord provided to her in the beauty of her creation.

And the Immaculata – through her total commitment to her Blessed Spouse (the Holy Spirit), Blessed Son (Christ) and Blessed Lord (God the Father) – guaranteed that she would be available for ALL ETERNITY – to be the handmaid of the Lord…

“And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).

And so, as I reflect on the example of the Immaculata, I long to pray, as my Blessed Mother prayed… “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).

How I long to pray such a prayer!

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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