One of the markers of the utter desolation of the Chosen People at certain points of their history was the cessation of the daily sacrifice in the Temple: when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, when its replacement was defiled by the Seleucid Empire in the time of the Maccabees, and finally when it was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. The profound grief of these moments found expression in the biblical book of Jeremiah’s Lamentations.
A similar note of grief afflicts the Church in contemplating the crucifixion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, commemorated most solemnly on Good Friday. The Lamentations form a major element in the traditional services of Matins and Lauds celebrated over the Triduum, called Tenebrae.
We know that the story does not end there: Jesus rose again. Nevertheless, his death was real, and the grief of his mother and disciples was real. The grief of Our Lady was not based on a misunderstanding or a failure to accept God’s will. It was natural, and it was demanded by the occasion: the suffering and death of her Son. The sorrowful stage of the journey was a necessary one: Christ had to suffer through it, and Our Lady, our model, kept him company in that suffering. We must not succumb to the temptation of flipping the pages of the story too quickly to get to the happy ending.