John 19:25-27 Sorrow vs. Sadness
Nowhere in the Gospels do we hear that the Lord or the Blessed Virgin Mary were sad. I should probably look up the definition to see what others say or think in regards to the definition of sadness and sorrow, but the Church today blesses this day as a memorial of Our Lady of Sorrow. Sadness is caused by a self-inflicted wound. Sorrow is caused by a wounded friend. Sadness fills our hearts when we drown in our own pain. Sorrow fills our hearts when we experience the pain felt by others. Sadness reaches out to close the door. Sorrow reaches out to open the door. Sadness is caused by one’s own sins. Sorrow is caused by the sins of others.
Our Lady felt tremendous sorrow because she experienced tremendous love. Sorrow is filled with faith, hope and love. Sadness is filled with emptiness, despair and bitterness. I have seen it best at funerals and how the loss of a loved one is felt. Emptiness, despair and bitterness fill the hearts of those who do not believe. Faith, hope and love fill the hearts of those who say “Until we meet again.”
The difference is known by one’s interest. The Saints never experienced sadness regardless of where they were, what they were doing, and how they died. They experienced sorrow many times over because they experienced too many times the loss of a loved one. Even our Lord grieved at the loss of his friend Lazarus. He grieved not because he didn’t believe his friend would rise from the dead. Rather, he grieved because he knew his friend had suffered and his suffering had caused sadness (despair) to fill the air. An act of faith would be demanded before any miracle could be accomplished. Both Martha and Mary came to believe.
Another Mary, the Mother of God, at the foot of the Cross, had always believed that her Son would rise from the dead. Still, a sword would pierce her side and a crown of thorns be placed upon her head because the Lord was “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.” Salvation history is the re-creation of man and woman.
Mary endured all these things in her heart because her heart was full of love. If we read the words of St. Paul in his canticle of love and apply them to the life of Mary, we can see how Mary was filled with sorrow, but never emptied by sadness.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Lord, may I never fall into the spell of sadness which is a poor man’s excuse for seeking attention. I know that I am more than capable of injuring myself to pity myself. May I never seek pain in order to be needed, appreciated or loved. Take away from me the selfishness of self-love, the emptiness of self proclaimed worth and the shallowness of bitterness. Open my heart to see the needs of others, and no longer my need to be seen, so that I may never experience sadness but sorrow.