At the foot of the cross, Mary is Mother to All

Message to Bishop Vittorio Bernadetto of Susa, Italy, on the centenary of the erection of a statue of Mary on Mount Rocciamelone “At the foot of the Cross, Jesus spoke those words which amount to a testament: ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ (Jn 19:26). The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very centre of this [paschal] mystery – a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity – is given as mother to every single individual and all mankind. The man at the foot of the Cross is John, the disciple whom he loved. But it is not he alone. Following tradition, the Council does not hesitate to call Mary, the mother of Christ and Mother of mankind.’ (Redemptoris Mater, n. 23). 
From that moment, no one on earth would any longer be an orphan. Well aware of this, the Church has never stopped drawing beneficial consequences from Mary’s motherhood. In particular, she recognized at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council that the Virgin of Nazareth’s participation in the work of redemption made her for the Christian people mother, model … a pre-eminent and unique member of the Church (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 53), attributing to her intercession a universal dimension in space and time: She is Mother to all and Mother for ever. The goal of her mission is to reproduce in believers the features of her first-born Son (cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, n. 57), bringing them at the same time to recover ever more clearly that image and likeness of God in which they were created (cf. Gn 1:26). 
The faithful know they can count on the heavenly Mother’s concern: Mary will never abandon them. By taking her into their own home as a supreme gift from the heart of the crucified Christ, they are assured a uniquely effective presence in the task of showing the world in every circumstance the fruitfulness of love and the authentic meaning of life.”
[See his message on world youth day (april 13, 2003), “Behold, your mother,” found here.]
The angel Gabriel’s words
in Nazareth: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1,28) also cast light on the
scene at Calvary. The Annunciation comes at the beginning, the Cross
signals the fulfilment. At the Annunciation, Mary gives human nature to
the Son of God within her womb; at the foot of the Cross, she welcomes
the whole of humanity within her heart in the person of John. She was
Mother of God from the first moments of the Incarnation, and she became
the Mother of humanity during the final moments of the life of her Son
Jesus on earth. She, who was without sin, on Calvary “experienced”
within her own being the suffering of sin that her Son had taken upon
himself to save humankind. At the foot of the Cross on which was dying
the One whom she had conceived at the moment of her “yes” at the
Annunciation, Mary received, as it were, a “second annunciation”:
“Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19,26).
The Son upon the Cross can pour out his suffering
into his Mother’s heart. Every child who suffers experiences that need.
You too, my dear young people, are faced with suffering:  loneliness,
failures and disappointments in your personal lives; difficulties in
inserting yourselves in the adult world and in professional life:  the
separations and losses in your families; the violence of war and the
death of the innocent. Know, however, that in difficult times, which
everyone experiences, you are not alone: like John at the foot of the
Cross, Jesus also gives his Mother to you so that she will comfort you
with her tenderness.
It says in the Gospel that “from that hour the
disciple took her to his own home (Jn 19,27). This statement, the
subject of many commentaries since early Christian times, does not
simply point out the place where John lived. Beyond the material aspect,
it evokes the spiritual dimension of this welcome and of the new bond
established between Mary and John. 
My dear young people, you are more or less the same
age as John and you have the same desire to be with Jesus. Today, it is
you whom Jesus expressly asks to receive Mary “into your home” and to
welcome her “as one of yours”; to learn from her the one who “kept all
these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2,19) that inner
disposition to listen and the attitude of humility and generosity that
singled her out as God’s first collaborator in the work of salvation.
She will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mould you
until Christ is fully formed in you.


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