St John Paul’s devotion to and love for the Blessed Mother comes through strongly in section 9. This is the second of six posts, if you are counting. First, a nod to the Immaculate Conception leading into a linking of Mary’s sacrifice with that of the Lord. Model to admire or even emulate? Let’s read:
Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God’s mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love, to the covenant that He willed from eternity and that He entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in that revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross. No one has experienced, to the same degree as the Mother of the crucified One, the mystery of the cross, the overwhelming encounter of divine transcendent justice with love: that “kiss” given by mercy to justice.(Cf. Ps..85:11) No one has received into his heart, as much as Mary did, that mystery, that truly divine dimension of the redemption effected on Calvary by means of the death of the Son, together with the sacrifice of her maternal heart, together with her definitive “fiat.”
This witness is not insignificant to Christians. The sacrifice of a parent and mother is nearly as wrenching as anything we human beings can experience. And yet it was part of the work of redemption as is proclaimed to us. Since Mary’s sacrifice is not explicitly described in the Bible, it remains a matter of personal reflection and human imagination. While there’s a danger of getting sidetracked into sentimentality, I think the Blessed Mother offers us another glimpse into the deepest mystery of God’s mercy.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana