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Reflection on the Thirteenth Station
By The Rev. Matthew Dumont-Machowski

When Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross, Mary’s child is finally at rest in her arms again. His face is clutched to her breast. Her arms are wrapped around his mutilated body. Her heart, which for years has beamed with love for Jesus, is now overcome by deep and unfathomable sorrow. At that very moment, fulfilling Simeon’s prophecy, her soul is pierced with a sword of anguish and unspeakable pain. Beneath the cross at Golgotha and embracing the body of God incarnate, Mary now holds the whole hurting world in her arms.

Mary lives in the hearts of all who to this day suffer oppression or grieve over loss and death. Over 4,000 forced migrants and refugees have died around the world since 2014. Millions of us have cried at the sight of Alan Kurdi – a tiny three-year-old Syrian refugee – lying face down on the shores of Turkey; his body washed up by the sea. ‘I should have died with them,’ cries his father who survived. Having all his dreams suddenly crushed, it seems like his whole life drowned with Alan and his mother. Such anguish is also shared by Tania Vanessa Avalos, a young Salvadoran mother who lost her daughter and husband to the rapids of Rio Grande. Just like with Mary at Golgotha, Tania’s soul has been pierced with a sword, too.

Yet, Mary knew that Christ died so that we may live. She knew that our darkness will eventually be overcome by Christ’s light. Jesus is the Redeemer of our souls, the one who brings consolation to all our pain and despair. May we, the living Body of Christ, continue to bring light into the dark places. May we stretch the mantle of God’s love over those who lost their lives to war and violence, and who grieve the loss of their fellow refugees and migrants.

The Rev. Matthew Dumont-Machowski is a senior seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary and was recently ordained to the transitional diaconate in the Diocese of Virginia. Originally from Poland, Matthew has lived his entire adult life as an immigrant on three different continents. Matthew moved to the United States from the United King-dom with his husband in 2017. Prior to their move, he served as a research fellow and lecturer in Middle Eastern Politics and Security at the University of London. He has previously worked for the UK Houses of Parliament and political think-tanks in the UK and the Middle East. Matthew is passionate about interfaith relations, reconciliation, peace-making, and the refugee crisis around the world.