Church of England Diocese of Manchester St. Paul, Bury

Solidarity at the Cross

14 Mar 2021, midnight
From_the_Vicar Lent

<span style="font-size: 1rem;">We all probably have a book that made a significant impact on our way of seeing the world. For me, the book is “Audacity to Believe” by Sheila Cassidy. Cassidy was a doctor living and working in a shantytown in Chile who, because she patched up a wounded guerrilla, found herself imprisoned and tortured by the government. Taken to a football stadium where lots of other young people had been corralled, she avoided almost certain death because the British diplomatic service stepped in and rescued her. In her book, after telling this horrific story, she explores the impact on society of a government unrestrained by any moral compass other than “might makes right.”</span>

Cassidy noted the role of women in standing up to injustice and oppression. The willingness of the wives and mothers of those who had disappeared to gather in the most public square and to noisily protest the injustice perpetrated on their menfolk, the embarrassment of worldwide press interest and their courage in the face of intimidation eventually led to a dampening down of the violence.

Today is Mothering Sunday. The temptation is to frame today around sentimental images of indulgent maternal figures. There is space for that. If you have been cared for by one such woman, that indeed is something to give thanks to God for. Mary is often portrayed that way, dressed in nice clean clothes, carrying a nice clean Jesus.

Today’s Gospel presents us with a more angular figure. Mary dares to stand at the foot of the cross, reminding the Empire that its casual execution affects not just the victim but the victim’s mother. Our Gospel speaks of the courage motherhood draws out of women, of a willingness to expose oneself for the sake of one’s child, of the audacity to believe that love wins in the face of death.