Calvary is the summit of human history, where the drama of God’s salvation of man reaches its climax. Every human experience and expression, every action, every thought, every exercise of free will, finds its meaning and fulfillment only through the Cross.
It is at Calvary that we see enacted the fulfillment of the Mother Co-redemptrix, but in a category of human experience that transcends the dignity and efficacy of any other human vocation. At Calvary, the Mother partakes in the very act of Redemption, which in turn gives Christian meaning, purpose, and value to every other human act throughout the course of history. For it is by the objective measure of salvation, according to the ultimate meaning of love and truth, that all acts will be weighed.
Jn. 19:25-27: “Woman, behold, your son! . . . Behold , your mother”
Here, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled by a sword of sorrow so painful that no other human heart could bear it and live. Only the Immaculate Heart is granted the graces by the Eternal Father to endure the immolation of her Son as Victim for her other spiritual sons and daughters to-be. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother . . . When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (Jn. 19:25-27).
Jesus, Mary, the tree of the Cross. How entirely supernatural is the Heavenly Father’s reversal of Satan’s initial victory in the original fall of man (Gen. 3:1-6). At Eden, the original human sin is committed by the First Adam through the intercession of the First Eve at the tree of the forbidden fruit. At Calvary, the original human sin is reversed and redeemed by Jesus, the New Adam (1) through the intercession of Mary, the New Eve at the tree of the Cross. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is supernaturally fulfilled at Calvary with the “Woman” and her “seed of victory” crushing the head of Satan and his seed of sin.
This is why the Church’s Liturgy sings to God the Father the praises of the New Eve in the mission of the Redemption:
In your divine wisdom, you planned the Redemption of the human race and decreed that the new Eve should stand by the cross of the new Adam: as she became his mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of your love, she was to be a partner in his passion, and she who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church. (2)
“Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn. 19:26). Woman of Genesis, Woman of Cana, and now, near the end of your maternal crucifixion of heart, you, Woman of Calvary, behold, your son. And behold as well your universal office as Spiritual Mother to all those redeemed here at Calvary, represented by your “new son,” the beloved disciple. For you, Mary Co-redemptrix, have suffered “with Jesus” for their ransom, and therefore you shall spiritually nourish and protect them with Jesus, the Redeemer of all peoples, as the new Mother of all peoples.
John Paul II eloquently notes of the Mother’s share in the “redemptive love” of her Son and its universal, spiritual fecundity for humanity:
The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very center of this 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”: since she “belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all human beings . . . Indeed she is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ . . . since she cooperated out of love so that there might be born in the Church the faithful.'”
And so this “new motherhood of Mary,” generated by faith, is the fruit of the “new” love which came to definitive maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the redemptive love of her Son. (3)
But what was the actual price of suffering for Mary Co-redemptrix in order to partake “with Jesus” in the Redemption of the human race and, as a result, to become the spiritual Mother of all peoples?
No human mind or heart can fully comprehend the depth and breadth of this suffering. Popes and poets, musicians and artists have sought to convey the Mother’s pain in various creative mediums, from the Stabat Mater to the Pieta. But all human efforts fail, and the humble are quick to acknowledge the inability to grasp fully the genus of suffering “with Jesus” experienced by Our Lady of Sorrows in order to buy back an entire human race.
The Mother stands near the cross of Jesus amidst the litanies of blasphemies intoned by the onlookers, some recited by the ecclesiastically trained who have condemned him by using a rationalistic exegesis of the Father’s Law. Other blasphemies are hurled by common people who ignorantly follow their misguided shepherds. Still more contempt is heaped on her son by those who habitually condemn because of their own fallenness. The Mother hears each and every insult individually. She receives her own direct insults as the condemned’s mother, as is still the practice today when someone seeks to inflict pain by directing their insult at a person’s mother. Such blasphemies are unintended testimonies to the Co-redemptrix’s unity of mission with Jesus.
On the cross Jesus bleeds, but his Mother cannot stop his bleeding and care for his wounds. On the cross, Jesus cannot find a place to rest his head due to the crown of thorns, but his Mother cannot direct his head. On the cross, Jesus “thirsts” (Jn. 19:28), but the Mother cannot give him drink. On the cross, Jesus confesses in human kenosis, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34), but the Mother cannot console her Son.
The Mother shares in the Heart of her Son when he utters from the new tree of the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). The Mother also forgives and joins in the petition for the Father’s forgiveness, as such is the very purpose of Redemption and Coredemption. And the Mother finds a drop of consolation amidst the ocean of desolation (and a confirmation of their redeeming mission) when she hears the Son declaring to the good thief: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
Finally, with a paradoxical bittersweetness of heart, the Mother hears the words of the Son that he is now departing. He is at the moment of death. He will be taken from her, but their lifelong mission of Redemption has been eternally successful in buying back humanity: “It is consummated” (Jn. 19:30). It is not only finished but fulfilled.
John Paul II describes the intensity of the Immaculate Mother’s suffering at this moment as “unimaginable”:
In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith, but also a contribution to the Redemption of all . . . .It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached such an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view, but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. (4)
Rev. 12 : The Woman Clothed “With the Sun” (5) and the Dragon
A final scriptural revelation of the Co-redemptrix is given in the mystical language of the Apocalypse.
The vision of the “woman clothed with the sun” of Revelation 12:1 is introduced by the vision of the Ark of the Covenant within the Temple in Revelation 11:19: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple . . . And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1).
Mary is the New Ark who bears within herself Jesus the Redeemer, who is the New Covenant between divinity and humanity. (6) It is of utmost significance that the Marian image of the New Ark ushers in the last great revelation of the Woman of Scripture in all her glory. She is the Woman of solar and celestial brightness, the Woman who is clothed “with the Sun” in brilliant light and surrounded “with Jesus,” the true Son and Light of the world.
The Fathers of the Church and later ecclesiastical writers (7) taught that the Woman of Revelation 12 depicts both Mary and the Church in various ways. But in its first sense, the Woman of Revelation 12 must reveal Mary, for the Immaculate Virgin of Nazareth “brings forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod” (Rev. 12:5). Jesus is that ruler and Mary alone is his true and natural mother.
The Immaculate alone is the Woman placed in enmity with the serpent in the great parallel texts of Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 12, an enmity that leads to and culminates in the cosmic battle for souls depicted in Revelation 12: 13, 17: “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had born the male child . . . then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.” The spiritual battle between God’s greatest creature and his most evil creature comprises the “bookends” of Sacred Scripture, and depicts a struggle for souls that not only extends through the breadth of the Written Word of God but also the entire course of human history, inclusive of our present hour.
The Co-redemptrix, “with Jesus,” battles against the Dragon who wars upon the rest of the Woman’s offspring, which is redeemed humanity. With his seed of sin in all its forms, including its contemporary manifestations of abortion, communism, pornography, freemasonry, materialism, secularism, cloning, nuclear war and the like, the Dragon seeks to lure her offspring eternally away from the Woman and her Seed of victory.
The Woman of Revelation 12 is, in diverse though complementary ways, both a “Woman of glory” and a “Woman of suffering.” (8) She is a woman of glory in so far as she is the woman clothed with the sun and crowned by twelve stars (v. 1), who gives birth to the male-child, ruler of all nations (v. 5). She is a woman of suffering in so far as she is the woman with child that “cries out in the pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (v. 2) and is at war with the