No deeper or more penetrating loss (Luke 2:35) has ever been felt than that of a mother holding in her arms the body of her child. This emotion has been captured so perfectly by Michelangelo in his statue "The Piéta". It shows Mary the mother of Jesus cradling his limp body in much the same way as a mother holds her child who has fallen asleep while suckling. Although alone in this image, we know she had been accompanied by several others at the foot of the cross as her son and our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died. Our own clerestory (upper) stained glass windows chart the life of Mary and include a Pieta (see photo). One of those was John the Evangelist ('This is your Mother', 'This is your Son') who took care of Mary from this point onward: in his agony and suffering, Jesus still recognised that his mother needed to be looked after in this world. St John represents us the church; Mary is our Mother now.
The other Marys accompanied Jesus body to its very hastily arranged resting place. Mary of Bethany had already washed the body with her tears, her hair and using Nard. She perhaps helped now as the body was wrapped, in a cloth packed with 100lbs of scented and spiced oils, and laid to rest in a tomb just a few steps away from the crucifixion site. She would most certainly have felt the loss of a dear friend. But she had also previously experienced the joy of a promised resurrection, her brother Lazarus having previously been raised from his tomb.
There are those - many more than one would realise - in our community who have suffered that particular loss of a child, and for whom we should offer a prayer today. All of us have, or will, suffer the loss of a bereavement and will have attended their funeral. Whilst we might be tempted to rush to the joy and comfort of the certain knowledge of our salvation and personal resurrection promised through the remainder of the Easter liturgies - today we should not. Today is a day for reflecting on and acknowledging our loss, and for sharing our real feelings with those that remain with us.