One of the 7 last words (or phrases) of Christ is found in John 19:26-27:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
It’s interesting to ponder how in his final moments Jesus is caring for his mother.
I’ve been trying imagine what it would have been like emotionally for Jesus’ mother Mary during his 3-year ministry. I can imagine there would have been moments of exhilaration and moments of confusion. My goodness, no wonder Mary pondered so many things in her heart.
At one point, Mary apparently traveled with the rest of Jesus’ extended family from Nazareth to Capernaum, about 40 miles, to bring him back to Nazareth. Or so it seems based on this reading in the gospel of Mark: “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you”, we read in Mark 3:32.
In an earlier verse — Mark 3:21 — we read that Jesus’ family went to “take charge of him” (some translations say “to restrain him”) saying “He is out of his mind.”
What must have been going through the mind of Jesus’ mother, Mary, then? We can only imagine.
And of course you remember Jesus’ response to all this: “Who are my mother and brothers?”
Pointing to his disciples Jesus says: “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Do you think this confused his mother? I can only imagine. And how about these incidents?:
- Imagine what Mary thought when Jesus announced he was leaving his work as a carpenter in Nazareth to go and preach the good news.
- Imagine her amazement at his power when he healed people, fed the hungry, and raised the dead.
- And then imagine Mary at the foot of the cross. What would it have been like to hear her son say to her: “Woman, here is your son” and then to his disciple, John, standing beside Mary, “Here is your mother”.This is Jesus caring for his mother even from the cross. Jesus surely understood both the love of a parent and the love for a parent.
Other than on the cross, when was Jesus most helpless and vulnerable?
As an infant? That’s why I think. Jesus came among us as a helpless infant, totally dependent on others. And who was it that gave the most intimate of care for Jesus when he was a little child?
Most certainly Mary, his mother.
Now at the end of his life, Jesus is helpless once again as he hangs on the cross. And in his last act of love and responsibility, he takes the initiative and cares for and helps his mother.
Father James Martin, SJ, writes about how the faithful the world over ask for Mary to pray for them. “When you ask for the prayers of the blessed Mother, then, you are not only praying to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God, but also to Miriam of Nazareth, a woman who had a difficult life, who knows confusion, who knows heartache, who knows what it means to be loved and helped by Jesus. And who knows you. Now and at the hour of your death.”