Archive for the ‘Holy Week’ Category

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’

John 19:26-27a

I am a mother and a daughter, and this verse just about undoes me in both respects.

When I have entertained thoughts of what would happen if I were to die young, I’ve always had to cut off that train of thought when one face came into my mind: my mother’s. I cannot bear to imagine her suffering. From time to time over the past couple of decades, my mom has said things like “I expect you to let me die first” to me and my sisters. And though she says it with a hint of a laugh in her voice, I’ve always known it was no joke to her.

Now that I have my own kids, I understand even better the powerful bond between a mother and the children she has borne. The severing of that bond through the death of a child has to be one of the cruelest blows of our fallen world. I can’t think about it for long without feeling a physical ache.

Jesus created the human emotions, the brain chemistry that causes bonding, and the physical effects is has on our bodies. Was he surprised at all when he took on our flesh and experienced it for himself?

I can only guess at what Jesus felt when he saw his mother watching him die. To me, this seems like it would have to be his most trying moment on the cross. There’s a song that says, “How could you hang on with your mama crying? How could you keep on breathing in and out?”

But for our sakes, he did hang on, and in the process he revealed the deep tenderness of his heart. He did not diminish the importance of human relationship. He affirmed it and blessed it. You need each other, and I have given you each other. I have loved you to the end. Now love one another.

Of the twelve disciples, John is the only one who lived to old age and died a natural death. I can’t help but wonder if God preserved him just for Mary’s sake, to spare her more grief.

And I wonder if every time a mother loses her child and cries out to Jesus, he sees the grief of his own earthly mother all over again and speaks gently to her with knowing tenderness, “Dear woman…”


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