Monday, April 16, 2012

"Woman behold your son, son behold your mother"

I was asked to give a reflection on "Woman behold your son, son behold your mother" at the Good Friday service and I thought I would share it with you.

A reading from the Gospel of St. John:
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.  There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.  Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.  It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.  So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews, but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier.  They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.  So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]: “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” This is what the soldiers did.  Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.  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.

Reflective Homily:           (Leader: Please read or give your reflective meditation here.)

“Woman, Behold your Son”… imagine what Mary must have been thinking when her son as he is struggling for his last breaths on the Cross looks to her and shares these very words with her. In the scripture you just heard Christ is not only speaking to his Mother Mary but also to his most beloved disciple, John. Here they are standing at the foot of the cross, watching the one they love suffer excruciating pain, and in the midst of that pain, Christ offers one of the most precious gifts to all of humanity.

St. Bernard so beautifully explains that when Christ looks to his mother and  John and says, “Woman Behold your son, Son behold your Mother”, He does not call Mary, “Mother” but “Woman” for if Christ were to call  her “Mother,” she would have only been his mother and no one else’s, so in order for him indicate to us that she is now becoming the mother of all mankind in whom he redeems through his passion, death and resurrection, he endows her with the universal title of motherhood: “Woman”.  

The same can be said for John. Our Lord does not call him John, for if He did, John would have only been the son of Zebedee; he purposefully left him unnamed so that he would stand for all of humanity. It was through these words that Our Lord was establishing a new relationship; one where his own mother became the mother of all mankind and in turn we became her children. 

The title “mother” is a very sacred name one that I would not deem appropriate to call another woman other than my own mother. There is a relationship, an understanding, and a love there that is unique and special, in which no one else understands. Think for a moment what the name “mother” means to you. For me it means someone who is caring, provides security and love. I know without a doubt that my mother would be there to provide for me, defend me, love me, and fight for me. It is for these very reasons that Christ gives us the gift of his own mother, that she might be there to provide for us, defend us, love us and fight for us.

Christ knew that this life on earth would be full of heartache and pain, and while he himself suffered this very heartache and pain He knew we could not do it alone and without the love of a Mother. Mary walked the way of the Calvary with our Lord as He carried His cross. She felt in her heart the very pain that her son was experiencing, could not stop it and once again found herself saying as she had 33 years earlier, “Yes, be it done according to your will.”

Our earthly mothers will fail us, will cause us pain, they are only human, and Our Lord knew that to fully understand the love of the Heavenly Father, we must first know the love of a Mother which is why He gave us his own most perfect Mother to be ours. As we continue to journey through this Good Friday I encourage you to take a moment to mediate on the selfless gift Christ gave to us on the Cross. Are we taking full advantage of the great gift we have been given as being a child of Mary? Are we asking her to help us, defend us, love us and fight for us as she did for her own Son on this Good Friday 2,000 years ago?

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