Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)
We Christians grieve differently than the rest because we grieve with hope. We see that in this poignant scene at the foot of the cross.
The cross brings us face to face with Jesus’ suffering. He was alone. All his disciples had deserted him except for his mother and three women along with John, the beloved disciple. The apostles had fled in fear. But Mary, the mother of Jesus and three other women who loved him were present at the cross. They demonstrate the power of love for overcoming fear (1 John 4:18).
Mary did not despair in her sorrow and loss, since her faith and hope were sustained by her trust in God and the love she had for her Son. Jesus hanging on the cross, in the final moments of his mortal death, consoles the few standing there and entrusts them to one another.
The mystery at the heart of the gospel is that through Christ we participate in the intimate union of love that exists between the Father and the Son. This is the good news. This is what we must hear and believe in above all else.
Why is it so important to hear it, to listen to it?
Because the minute we forget our status as beloved daughters and sons of God, the Good News evaporates. The minute that we begin to substitute some other identity in place of our identity as beloved children of God, the Gospel vanishes. I can testify that from the experience of over 45 years of ministry, there is no more common or fatal mistake made by Christians than to forget this basic identity.
When we ignore our status as beloved daughters and sons and begin to see ourselves primarily as sinners, as victims, as unlovable, as flawed, as unworthy, the power of the gospel is lost to us. Do we sin? Are we flawed? Is there a real sense that we are unworthy of the tremendous love that God showers on us? Of course. But despite all of those flaws, we remain chosen and beloved children of God. It is only by claiming our true identity that we find the power to turn away from sin, the power to heal our hurts, the power to claim the dignity that God has so freely given us.
God never forgets that we are beloved daughters and sons. For all of our faults and all of our failings, God continues to look at us with love. This is what we must listen to. This is what we must never forget.
So when you become discouraged, when you find yourselves losing hope because of your faults, because of your inability to be as patient or as generous as you would like, because of your inclination to be judgmental of others, remember: God loves you with the same love that God loves Jesus. When things are going wrong, when you cannot find a way out, when you are beginning to think that God is punishing you, remember: God is not about punishing you. God is about loving you with a love that never ends. When you become overwhelmed with grief, with sickness, with an emptiness that will not let you go, remember: God’s love for you is everlasting.
You are not one among many people. Your dreams and your needs are always before God’s face. Jesus himself assures you, “You are God’s favored daughter. You are God’s beloved son.” Listen to him.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin, condemnation, and death. May I live my life remembering how much you love me.”
Jesus, in his grief and suffering, did not forget his mother. He entrusted her care to John, as well as John to her. No loss, no suffering can keep us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). Paul the Apostle says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:3). We can find no greater proof of God’s love for us than the willing sacrifice of his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross. Do you know the love that enables you to bear your cross and to endure trial and difficulties with faith and hope in God?