The Apostle John stands at the foot of the Cross with Our Lady on Calvary. John is the sole witness among the Twelve to Jesus' crucifixion, and the only evangelist to record his cry of thirst (see Jn 19:28). Yet we can presume that he already had a relationship with Mary, who in turn led him to the Cross on Good Friday. We know that John, too, had run away in fear, just like the others, as Jesus had predicted (see Mt 26:31). But John, recognizing his weakness, at some point along the way found Our Lady amid the crowd on the Via Dolorosa. In her he found a love, a strength, and a serenity that surpassed his own, and a heart to open his own to the words he alone among the Twelve would hear. Our Lady brought John to faithfulness, and to witness the thirst of her Son. This is what she did for Mother Teresa. This is what she offers to do for every disciple.
This, then, is a lesson for us. We cannot presume to persevere in bearing our crosses, counting on our own strength and goodwill alone, as St. John had presumed to do. Without an intimate relationship with Our Lady, the command to pick up our cross daily and follow the Lord will prove too difficult and demanding. We may indeed love Jesus deeply, as St. John surely did, or as St. Peter did, warming himself at the fire. But we will fail and fall before the scandal of the Cross when it threatens to touch us, if we face it by ourselves. Without Our Lady, we would be as St. John alone on Good Friday, alone before the crosses of life, oblivious of Jesus in our midst. In times of trial, we are often like the poor in Mother Teresa's vision, covered in darkness, unaware that Jesus is there in the midst of us.
Without the fidelity Our Lady gave St. John, the Church would never have heard the words "I thirst"; and without the fidelity she gave to Mother Teresa, the world would not have heard those words, or seen them lived out, today. So the cycle of grace is completed. Surrounded by the poor, Mother Teresa stands with Our Lady before Jesus crucified. In his thirst for her love and theirs, for her soul and theirs, Christ sends her out to search for those who still wait, "covered in darkness." And the cycle will begin again, going with Our Lady to the poor to find the crucified Lord in their midst and to bring them to him. It is these three – the poor, Jesus crucified, and Our Lady, who rest at the heart of Mother Teresa's remarkable God-given grace and mission.
Fr. Joseph Langford , MC (Mother Teresa in the Shadow of Our Lady)