At the Christmas Eve service this year, I started to wonder about Jesus’ mother Mary. The main thought was this: if she had known everything that was going to happen in the next thirty-three or so years of her life, would she have been so willing to accept her role as Jesus’ mother? Christmas night found me typing up the monologue that appears below. I thought maybe it would be a moving monologue for a Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service – Mary’s thoughts that take place right after the crucifixion, but before the resurrection. I thought about trying to bring it full circle, to a place after the resurrection where Mary declares that Yes, she would do it all again – and I still might do that – but for now I’m keeping it as is.
Mary (Mother of Jesus) Monologue for Maundy Thursday
The journey here was arduous. Nine months pregnant, riding on the back of a donkey – it was not exactly comfortable, let me tell you. And now, as the contractions draw closer and closer together, Joseph desperately searches for a place for us to stay, a warm room, a bit of privacy. And I wonder, though I try not to, what kind of world allows a woman about to give birth no place to deliver her child? If I had known then what I know now, would I still have whispered to the angel, “Let it be unto me as you have said?”
He broke my heart today. The remark was not meant to hurt me, I know, but rather to illustrate Jesus’ love for all his followers. Still, the words stung. “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” In my selfish heart a battle wages – part of me cheers his huge, ever caring heart, while the other part wants to remind him who exactly delivered him in a stable, who fled to a foreign country to keep him safe, who taught him to walk and talk and play. If I had known then what I know now, would I still have whispered to the angel, “Let it be unto me as you have said?”
Over three decades ago, an old prophet at Jesus’ circumcision spoke of a sword that would pierce my soul. I have often wondered at his words. When Jesus left home to begin his ministry and I felt such a constant piercing ache for his presence, I thought maybe that was what the words had meant. When I heard rumors of the danger he faced at the hands of the Romans and the religious authorities and worry pierced my soul, I thought of Simeon’s sword. But those feelings seem so small compared to the debilitating grief that consumes me now. I cannot think. I cannot pray. I cannot even cry. I can only stand here watching in agony as my son – my firstborn Son! – takes his final breaths. Scene after scene from this day of horrors flash through my mind, despite my desperate attempts to stop them. Jesus, handcuffed and tried like a criminal. Jesus, bearing a brutal flogging that tore his flesh and left him nearly dead. Jesus, a crown of the cruelest thorns pressed deep into his forehead, standing on display before a hateful crowd. Jesus, dragging a huge, rough Roman cross through the streets, making his way toward his own unthinkable death. Jesus, his hands, his feet, nailed – pierced! – to this godforsaken cross. And these hours and hours of waiting for death to come, to suffocate, to drown – just take him! Just take him! It is too much… there is too much blood…
He cries out. His body slouches on the cross, done. It is over. Over. It is dark in the middle of the day, but I do not notice because my eyes are tightly closed. The earth shakes, but I do not feel it because I have already fallen to the ground and broken into a million pieces. I am surrounded by people, by friends and strangers, but I am all alone. I do not know how long I lay on the ground wrapped in my shawl willing myself out of existence, but when I look up, I see a Roman soldier, his sword drawn, piercing the side of my dead son. I physically feel the pain in my own self, in the deepest part of me. The sword has pierced my own soul too. If I had know then – if I had known…would I have been so willing to be the mother of this child? Would I have whispered to the angel, “Let it be unto me as you have said?”