At the foot of the cross of Golgotha, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary, his mother, and others were there. Barely able to breathe, let alone speak, Jesus uttered:
“‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple [whom he loved], ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”
~John 19:26-27 (NRSV)
At the imminence of his death, Jesus’ compassion for his mother is both understandable, yet remarkable. He ensures her welfare is catered for. And though she hadn’t featured much in the Gospels, regarding the ministry of Jesus, she features in his regard by his final words.
Losing A Son, Yet Finding A Family
We can but wonder what happened of Mary, Jesus’ mother, as the early church emerged and unfolded throughout the remainder of the First Century.
Verse 27b says quite a lot regarding the welfare provided women who had lost important men in their lives. Jesus treats his mother like a widow. He is assured, by his care, that she was to be treated like a mother to another son.
Mary’s grief was likely to be more profound than most; Jesus was not a typical son, and even isolated himself from family ties in order to achieve the mission the Father had for him. Additionally, how must have Mary felt witnessing and experiencing the treatment that Jesus endured? The crooked court, the scourging, the mocking and ridiculing, and finally, the most heinous death; imagine a mother following her son in such circumstances.
A Matter Of Compensation
Jesus was thinking about the living arrangements beyond his earthly time. Not only was Mary to be looked after by his beloved disciple, this disciple, possibly John, had been given a further mandate.
Evangelising the gospel was the primary task, but no more primary than the welfare of one’s family. Having taken Mary into his home, assuming her to be his mother, with both assuming their histories to be the same, her grief is lessened. Indeed, the beloved disciple must have been of compassionate comfort to Mary.
Jesus’ thoughts for Mary may be what we could expect any son to do for his mother in similar circumstances. His actions are, therefore, not particularly holy, but so very pragmatic.
The compassion that fuelled Jesus’ ministry, that is visible also here, is the compassion we, too, are called to exemplify.
The compassion of Jesus to consider his mother, even on the cross, is a reminder to us. Even when we’re in pain we, too, can think of the welfare of our mothers, when, by our pain, their pain is doubled.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: Michelangelo’s Pieta.