A Reading from the Gospel According to John 19:25-27
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.
Opening Prayer: Look upon us, O God, Creator and ruler of all things, that we may feel the working of your mercy, grant that we may serve you with all of our heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
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.
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. What might we learn from Mary and from John as Jesus invites us to live more closely with them? Jesus asked Mary and John to make room in their lives for new relationships of care; we too, receive that same invitation!
But how devastating it must have been for Jesus to be abandoned by most of his friends and followers during the hour of his greatest human suffering. Yet, Jesus focused not on his own physical and emotional pain, but on the practical needs of his mother and the spiritual needs of his followers. In the time of Jesus, his widowed mother would have needed a man to take care of her after the passing of her only son. Jesus entrusted John to handle this precious responsibility. Jesus also knew that his followers needed a mother. Could he have offered to us anyone better than his own Blessed Mother, Mary? How blessed are we to be children of his holy mother?
Mary, this beautiful woman who suffered the loss of her husband Joseph and the brutal death of her beloved Son, was no stranger to the pain and agony of human existence. She went before us, and today she offers to accompany us in our suffering, our doubts, and our struggles. We can have no more powerful, more loving, more perfect companion in hard times than the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When a friend or family member is suffering, we often cannot solve their problem or make their pain go away. Instead, we emulate our Blessed Mother, along with Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and St. John, and stand with them at the foot of their cross and seek ways to assist them (a hot meal, an errand, a visit or simple recognition). Despite our feeling of helplessness, we refuse to abandon them to suffer alone, in replication of Mary, our mother.
Closing prayer: Dear Lord, in the midst of your pain and suffering, you still had concern for others and gave me the most beautiful possible gift, your own mother. Please teach me to appreciate this unmerited blessing. Help me also to look beyond my own problems and suffering to see the needs of those around me.
Action of the Day: Lord, today by your grace we will ask the Blessed Mother to open our eyes to a neighbor or family member who needs us to accompany them at the foot of their cross. We will ask for the wisdom to see how we can best serve this person and put this into action!