Good morning, happy Tuesday, and many blessings.
With today’s Gospel (John 19:25-27) we remember Our Lady of Sorrows. It is only right that we should reflect on the union of Mary and Jesus in the mystery of Salvation. As far as Mary is concerned, we know so little for certain; How much did she know? How much was she and the family involved in the public life of her son? Not much, if we are to accept the paucity of gospel references to her during the ministry. But we can imagine her puzzlement during the ups and downs of his public life, and we can speculate on the many long years of the hidden life.
There is no need to speculate about her dreadful pain during his passion. Any mother would be torn apart emotionally at the death of their only son by crucifixion inflicted unjustly. How much more would she have been, given her sensitivity arising from her closeness to Him by grace and nature?
When we read today's Gospel, we imagine Jesus, our shepherd, teacher, friend, even an elder brother, in great pain, suffering as he hangs on the cross. His body suffers pain and is covered by the bloody wounds inflicted by the scourging of the roman soldiers. He suffers not only because of the physical wounds inflicted on him but also because of the many difficulties associated with this kind of punishment. He also suffers intense emotion wounds because his fellow men, whom he had loved, condemned him to this terrible death on the cross. His closest friends and disciples, like Peter, had denied and abandoned and perhaps disappointed him.
Nevertheless, today’s Gospel reading focuses on the gift that Jesus gives from the Cross – giving his mother to John, and John to his mother. This has been interpreted down through the years as John representing us, the Church, as the Body of Christ. This means that Mary is following the same role of looking after us as she had when she looked after Jesus. It means that Jesus who gave us the beautiful sacrament of the Eucharist is seeing us as other Christs under the care of his mother.
Even while he was suffering on the cross, Jesus feels the confusion and grief of his beloved disciple. He also feels the quiet and tender faith of his mother, even in her great anguish and sorrow. His mother has always supported him in his work and mission on earth, even if she did not always understand where they would lead to. Amid all his suffering, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son". Perhaps he meant "Mama, look at me, your beloved son. Even in my pain and anguish, I love you so much.
Saint John is the only evangelist to depict Mary at the foot of the Cross. He did this to make the theological point that she has a place of special importance beside the disciple ‘whom Jesus loved’ at the cross and as a founder of the community of disciples that Jesus left.
Even at the moment of his death, Jesus’ heart is open to those who suffer. He recognizes the grieving of Mary and John and asks them to make space in their lives for one another. From here then I wonder; what might I learn from Mary and from John as Jesus invites me to live more closely with them?