The Blessed Virgin Mary sat at the table with her son and his friends. She and Magdalene had helped his disciples prepare the Passover meal. Mary enjoyed having the younger woman as a companion while she traveled with her son, and Magdalene was so much help today. Mary sat down, ready to hear and say the words that had been repeated by her people for generations.
At one point, Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and shared it with his closest friends, his disciples. He said, “Take and eat, this is my body.” Mary, who had been in a lull from the warm room, meal, and familiarity, snapped to attention. She looked at Peter first, and then John. They were staring at Christ’s hands. This is it. The words whispered in her soul from the Holy Spirit. He had been her constant companion since that moment the angel Gabriel appeared to her in Nazareth. Heart pounding in her chest, images of recent events flashed in her mind. First, one scene– “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger.” Men and women staring at her as they walked away, blaming her for her son’s lofty words. Then, another–“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Baptist’s eyes were wild with the spirit of God as the Holy Spirit descended on her son, on their son.
Pulled back into the present by the utter silence that had descended over the room, Mary’s own eyes settled on Jesus’ face. His features were calm, and he met her gaze. Love burned between them. The pounding slowed. She brushed off her fear, trusting in her son’s strength and his father’s plan. She began to listen to his words as he taught. All of them knew that tonight would be important. “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”
More memories flung themselves at her as time slowed to a crawl. First–the blood of the Passover lamb splashed on the lintel. Then the aged voice filling her ears: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” Simeon’s aged hands holding her tiny newborn baby. Simeon’s face bright with life, as if it were reflecting the new life he held. Her whole body tensed as she remembered the next: panic when Joseph told her that the pre-teen Jesus wasn’t with him, and she thought she failed her son and God himself. Next, the grief at the blood of the baby boys spilled so long ago on the streets of Bethlehem. The blood of those that God did not save.
Mary sought out Jesus’ face again. He was still speaking but looking at his disciples. “I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” No. She whispered internally, probing for the Holy Spirit, her strength. No. He had said “with you”. It’s not tonight. Her breathing slowed. Jesus’ soft baritone began a hymn, and the others joined in. Mary stared at her son. She remembered the first time he opened his eyes, and she felt that familiar tug of nostalgia on her heart. He was hers then. She hadn’t known what to expect, but he had been just a baby. No, he was her baby. No one on earth knew him like she did. If tonight was the night, she would know, wouldn’t she? He was still her baby, her son. But he hadn’t really been hers alone for long. In those early days and years, she had to share him with so many strangers. Shepherds. Kings. Temple priests. She longed to go back, just once, to the quiet years she shared with Joseph and Jesus, when he still fit in her arms.
Jesus looked at her, sure and strong. His voice rose, and it was all she could hear. She tried to burn this moment into her memory, his tender voice, the curve of his chin, the shape of his lips, the joy and love of his friends as he spoke to them. She was comforted enough to join the song. As it ended, Jesus said they would be heading to Gethsemane to pray. Magdalene touched Mary’s elbow. “It’s time to go to Clopas’ house for the night, Mother.” Mary turned and gazed into the eyes of the woman who was like a daughter to her. “I’m going to let Jesus know first.” Confusion clouded Magdalene’s face, but she stepped back, giving Mary a clear path to Jesus.
Mary approached Jesus, and as he turned towards her, she saw it. For a second, in his eyes, she knew this was it. She clung to him, breathing him in, feeling the weight of him in her arms. She remembered all the nights she spent with him pressed firmly against her. She remembered their conversations that lasted late into the night after Joseph’s death, trying to fill his absence with words and failing. She remembered her little boy showing her flowers he found, that had been only weeds. She inhaled deeply. He held her close, and her heart both broke with the knowledge that this could be their last moment and leaped with hope and joy at what was to come.
Jesus left with his disciples, but before he turned out of sight, he looked at her, one final shared moment. Magdalene again touched Mary’s elbow, and she broke her gaze. “Yes, let’s go,” she said. Mary clung to the younger woman as they walked, grief and hope wrapping around her. She turned to Magdalene. “Why is this night different from all the other nights?”
Cathy Torrez is a wife, stepmother, and mother. She spends her days at a salt plant and her nights snuggling her two small children. She takes those aforementioned children to Adoration each week (by choice!) and prays with them for others each night. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Adventures in Adoring.