"His look was, as it were, hidden and despised; whereupon we esteemed him not...We have thought him, as it were, a leper" (Isa 53:3,4).
How horrible it must have been for Our Sorrowful Mother to see the instruments of her son's torture and death paraded before her eyes. As the soldiers walked by her, wielding the nails, hammer, the ropes, the very tools that would cause his death.
There she stood, perhaps at a street corner, hoping to catch a glimpse, then he approaches...struggling beneath the weight of the cross, she is finally able to gaze upon the flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone...covered with blood, sorely wounded from head to foot, crowned with thorns, a stammering gait. We are wise to gaze upon him with the words of Isaiah: "We have seen him and there was no sightliness" (Isa 53:2).
Others may not have been able to recognize him, but she does. She wants to see him, yet she would not be human if she did not feel some trepidation and dread at this pitiful sight. She watches him approach, their eyes meet. According to St. Bridget who was gifted with seeing this scene in vision, Jesus then wiped away the matted and clotted blood from his eyes so he could look at his mother. The mother and the son look at one another and their looks "became as so many arrows to pierce those hearts which loved each other so tenderly." Mary did not faint at this meeting, for Christ's mother would not lose the use of her reason. Nor did she die, despite her heart and soul being plunged in a sea of bitterness that could have caused a thousand deaths.
According to St. Anselm she would have embraced Jesus, but was prevented by the guards who "thrust her aside with insults and pushed the suffering Savior forward." Mary followed. O holy Virgin, where are you going? To Calvary. Can you trust yourself to see him hanging there who is your very life? "And your life shall be, as it were, hanging before you" (Deut 28:66).
Mary took up her cross and followed him, to be crucified along with him. St. John Chrysostom describes the scene thus: "We humans feel pity even for wild beasts. If we see a lioness following her cub to death, we are all moved at the sight. Should we not be much more greatly moved to compassion on seeing Mary following her immaculate Lamb to death?" Let us pity her, and walk beside her and her son by carrying our crosses with patience in our everyday lives. Be grateful for all Mary has suffered for your sake.
O Mary, you and Jesus - both innocent as you were - have carried a far heavier burden. Shall I, a sinner who has deserved hell, refuse to carry mine? O immaculate Virgin, help me to bear patiently all the crosses of my life. Amen+
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)