16. Seven utterances on the cross. (Part 3)

“Dear woman, here is your son” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26)

The passage names all who were present at the foot of the cross, which included his mother Mary, his mother’s sister Mary, wife of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. But many others were missing, notably his own brothers because they didn’t believe in him ( John 7:5) and his disciples who said they would never leave ( Matthew 14:19) but had deserted him, including Peter! ( John 18:15) Those present at the were those who believed in him and loved him. At the foot of the cross, a new family is formed called the ‘family of believers’. Also new responsibilities and bonds are formed at the foot of the cross. Once when his family came to meet him, he asked, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers and sisters?” Pointing to his disciples, he said,”Here are my mother, my brothers and my sisters. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50) Elsewhere it says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) Why were they there to meet Jesus? ‘They went to take charge of him for they said, “He is out of his mind.” ( Mark 3:21) Jesus was very blunt with those who did not believe in him, be it his mother or brothers. At one point she seemed to be persuaded by his brothers but it is also said of Mary that she ‘treasured all these things in her heart’. (Luke 2:51)

Jesus looked around and saw his mother standing there together with a hand few of people who cared . All the rest had left the scene. His brothers were not to be seen for he was an embarrassment to them. Had not Mary been there, he would not have said what he said for there were his unbelieving brothers to take care of his unbelieving mother. Since she was there, he would not entrust his believing mother into the hands of his unbelieving brothers. Even in his agony, he was mindful of his mother’s state and made sure that she will be taken care of. He would rather entrust his mother to the only disciple present there, instead of letting Mary go back home to his brothers to face ridicule. ‘From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ Not that Mary didn’t have another home to go nor any relatives to look after her. But Jesus was sensitive to the situation. Until his resurrection, she had to be shielded from accusing voices. He wouldn’t let anyone abuse her; the very tenderness he showed to the Holy Spirit and would not let anyone rail against him. We see the heart of Jesus to care for those who are his family. His family, as he himself had pointed out, consists of those who believe. Just as Jesus is mindful of the ‘family of believers’, so should his disciples be mindful ! Jesus gave John a new responsibility without being told what to do. John took her home because he understood what Jesus meant. We know what we are supposed to do for the ‘family of believers’, without even being told what to do, but we refuse to go out of the way to help fellow believers because they are not afterall our family. But the Church too is a family and its members, though strangers, are related to one another by the blood of Jesus. Just as Joseph took care for his 72 blood relatives during the famine ( Genesis 45:11), even so Jesus will take care of those who are his blood relatives. We cannot walk away from the need of a fellow believer as if we didn’t see it. Jesus might ask us to accommodate in our homes those who are being persecuted for their faith, though they are not related to us by our blood but are related to us by the blood of Jesus, until everything is peaceful for them to return to their homes. Just as Jesus was mindful of his mother even in his agony, we should be mindful of others and forget not to show kindness. Often in our pain or lack, we do not have the presence of mind to hear or take note of someone else’s pain or lack but Jesus exhibited tremendous presence of mind, which is a fruit of the Spirit. ( 2 Timothy 1:7) We are told to ‘share with God’s people who are in need and to practice hospitality.’ ( Romans 12:13) ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’ (Galatians 6:10) Amen

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