Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 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.
Mary stood beneath the cross. She beheld the wounds from which the blood; she saw the hands and feet pierced with nails; she heard the blasphemies and the jeers of His enemies. She heard and saw all this, and it had to cause indescribable pain to her maternal heart.
She could do nothing to allay the sufferings of her Son. The wounds were open; she could not bind them. The lips were parched with a burning thirst; she could not hand Him a drink. The Holy Face was disfigured by spittle and blood; she could not refresh it.
She bore all her sufferings with a heaven-born patience.
At the heart of all this is a lovely story about the greatest gift of the love of a son for his mother, who has indeed poured out her love for him all his life as only a mother can. Within that lies life’s lessons.
It is deeply moving that Jesus in the agony of the Cross, when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in the days ahead. Even in the moment of his cosmic battle, he did not forget the simple things that lay near home. To the end of the day, even on the Cross, Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows of others than of his own. So too should we never forget that the sorrows of people around us are an invitation to extend His love. Even more than an invitation, they are a divine command.
We should look also at the women and the disciples simply being there during Jesus’ hour of need. They had the courage to face the pain and ultimate death of their loved one and to face the danger of being there at the foot of the cross. It is easier to be at a distance where you can’t really see, can’t really hear, can’t really participate. But we must never forget that the kingdom of God means our always being there, showing up, not being afraid to share in painful experiences and even to hold the hand and wipe the brow of the dying When people see us, they should see more than us. They should see a person who shares the love of Christ. That is part of His call to us. To live out our faith in the actions of our lives.
Our being part of the kingdom of God on earth also means that we need to be open to transformed and deepened relationships. We have heard the voice of Jesus call us into new relationships because of our life with him. The church is a community in which we are able to be brother and sister, mother and father together, not because of our birth, but because of Christ’s call to us.
Finally, the gift of this somber story is the resolute courage of Mary. No matter that the sword had pierced her heart, she bore the suffering and the anguish with not a word of complaint nor tears from her eyes. She believed in her son, accepted the pain and went on to help His disciples as they built His church.
When we stand at the foot of a cross in our lives, how do we respond? With self-absorption and cries of self-pity? Or do we call upon our faith in Him, accept the suffering and continue to move out to help others. Remembering always that we are called to love one another. For that was at the heart of all that He did us and should be in our hearts as we live out our lives.
Prayer of The Day
Lord God, the suffering of your Son for us reminds us that while life may sometimes be filled with pain, we are to rise above the anguish, offer it up to you and use it to fuel our steps as we build His kingdom. Help us always to remember that and to live out His command of love.
His love for us meant that families broken by the adversities of life shall find a new home in the family of Jesus. Families broken apart because of a betrayal by blood shall be placed in the household of God. Strangers shall become fellow citizens; the lonely shall be surrounded by brothers and sisters; the abandoned shall be adopted; the barren shall be comforted by sons and daughters by faith.