|Jesus laid upon the "Stone of Unction"|
A few years ago a little boy was dying, aged nine and a half. His mother, broken-hearted, was kneeling by the bedside. “When you go up to heaven, son,” she said, “you’ll ask Our Lord to send something to mother, won’t you? And what will it be?" There was a short pause and then the child, gasping for breath and holding mother’s hand, managed to murmur: “When I go up to heaven, I’ll ask Our Lord to send you much — suffering and pain!” Of course, the mother was dumbfounded, but the little lad continued:
“Yes, mother. I’ve noticed that He kept a lot of it for Himself, and gave a lot to His own Mother whom He loved. It must have a great value then. If He couldn’t find anything better for His Mother could I ask Him anything better for you?”
Often when the cross presses heavily upon our shoulders we are inclined to ask querulously what have we done against God to deserve to be punished so. Such a question dies away on our lips if we kneel on Calvary in the thirteenth station. Nicodemus and Joseph are taking out the nails from the hands and feet; for Jesus is dead. Reverently they lower the sacred Body and Mary stands there in mute agony to receive It into her arms. Between them, they bear this treasure over to the “Stone of unction” — a table of hard stone, convenient for the work of embalming. Some horsemen, tradition says, pass by while the friends of our Lord are washing His wounds and embalming the Body, and horrified at the sight of His mangled condition, they stop to ask what He has done to deserve this. The answer is that He has done all things well, but He has submitted to this unparalleled butchery because He loved. That is the only explanation. And as Mary sits there watching, holding His sacred head between her hands, pressing the wounds to her heart — now His hands, now His lips — ask her, and the answer is the same. Mary loved, and Mary’s love too must be subjected to love’s most searching test — readiness to suffer for the sake of the one loved.
She must share in men’s salvation; she must be given opportunity to show her love for them, and for the Father’s glory, so she too is permitted to suffer to a degree impossible for us to fathom or guess.
You can ask any chance acquaintance to perform a service that costs little or nothing — to open a door or drop a letter in the post-box. But if your request is going to make demands on his spirit of self-sacrifice — if it implies that he must hand you a large sum of money, or necessitates his denying himself a holiday or a free day, or if it will mean that he must endure for you hunger or thirst — if your request is going to include any of these things you are not going to turn to a chance acquaintance.
If you have a true friend and his adoption tried, to him you will go, confident that he will do what you want, even at such a cost to himself. And your confidence is built up on the knowledge you have that sacrifice is the test of love. We prove our love for Christ by prayer, by works of zeal, by organising sodalities and similar associations, but there is a proof more sure than all these or any of these.
It is especially when He turns to us and asks us to suffer that He shows He can depend upon us to give the proof par excellence.