This week, we resume reflections upon the life of Mary and lessons we can draw for our own life with Christ. Having covered the public ministry of Jesus, we now turn to the most sorrowful event, which led to our salvation, the Crucifixion, and Mary’s place at the foot of the Cross.
As the Gospel of John records, Mary was at the Cross with John at her side. John had initially fled when Jesus was arrested. But Mary gave him the courage to return and be with Jesus in this horrific time. Seeing Mary and John, Jesus said, “Behold, thy Son.” Alone these words could have been a poignant expression of sympathy at His mother’s plight, seeing her only Son die for the sins of humanity. But then He turned to John and said, “Behold, thy mother” indicating that John was to consider Mary as his mother, which he did receiving her into his home. (This entrustment of Mary to John helps demonstrate that she did notave children other than Jesus; for if she had other children, they would have been the ones to take care of her.
The Gospel references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus likely meant his cousins, for ancient Jewish culture used the same term for many levels of relationship.) Even as Jesus was suffering the greatest human torments, He was beginning to proclaim the new family of God on earth, as He showed the first promise of salvation by forgiving the repentant thief with the words, “You will be with Me this day in paradise.”
We are all called to be with John, and thus Mary and Jesus, amid the struggles of this life. For, as with John, we can take courage from Mary’s presence to face difficulties in the world, knowing that Jesus will bring salvation from them. As with Mary and John at the Cross, there are many problems that we cannot fix. But as they did, we can bring the love of God to people by our prayers and concern for them. And we know that, in the midst of struggles, our mother Mary is with us. As Jesus called Mary the mother of John, so He wants her to be a mother to all of us, and to the whole Church, in joys and sorrows, in hopes and fears. And, as the Crucifixion was the preparation for Easter, so Mary’s maternal love for us and the nations in sorrows and suffering prepares for the wondrous gathering of all nations into the family of God.