standing by

Sep 15, 2021

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.   Lk 2:33-35

Yesterday morning we recorded this week’s Homily Studio, with Dante Alighieri (who died 700 years ago yesterday) as a welcome guest. You can listen if you have half an hour up your sleeve by clicking on the image below.

The reason that I found Dante’s participation so helpful yesterday is that he is not afraid of the reality of the human condition reminding us that if we want things to look up we first have to go down. Dante wanted to go to paradise, but was led the long way, through suffering and death. There is no other way.

We shouldn’t be too surprised at this since suffering is the way of Christ and we are the followers of Christ. We are not choosing suffering. We are certainly not wanting it. Instead we are acknowledging that every human person who has ever lived has suffered.

Without faith we are doomed to this tough and often impossible existence. With faith have a sense (even a little sense) that we are accompanied, the long way, (as Dante was through Hell) to paradise.

That’s the message of this celebration of Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, helplessly standing by the cross as her Son was put to death.

Standing by. Perhaps that’s the most difficult suffering, helplessly standing by, unable to help ourselves and feeling helpless to save those we love who are suffering.

Standing by is hard.

But perhaps this standing by, standing with, standing alongside those who suffer, is the purest love and the greatest prayer of all.

In this prayer of standing by we realise that we and those we love are being stood alongside.

You might like to try prayer as simply standing by Jesus knowing that He is standing by you.

And if that is too much of a challenge don’t worry about standing by Jesus – instead simply know that Jesus is standing by you.

We are never alone.

And remember that the women who stood by the cross of Jesus at the crucifixion, were the first ones to stand with Jesus the morning of His resurrection.

An Invitation

  • For those who would like to spend the next 100 days living Dante’s Divine Comedy try this link: 100 Days with Dante.
  • This hymn, the Stabat Mater, is perfect for today’s memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Listen at this link.
  • And I’m sure that as you read this reflection you will have this tune playing in your head:
    When the night has come, and the way is dark,
    And that moon is the only light you see.
    No I won’t be afraid, no I-I-I won’t be afraid
    Just as long as you stand, stand by me.
  • And click on the image for this week’s Homily Studio.


  1. You have no idea of course the comfort this morning’s reflection has brought to me – thank you

  2. Amen beautiful reflection really inspiring thank’s Father John God bless

  3. John, your suggestion that prayer can be Jesus and I standing by each other reminds of the man who told St John Vianney “I look at him and he looks at me”. And just being aware that Jesus is standing by me reminds me of what Paul told the Romans: “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words …….”. Thanks for your daily reflections


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