Standing near the cross are the women who were closest to Jesus. Confusedly most of them are called Mary. They are standing by Jesus when all but one of his disciples have fled and abandoned him. His mother is there, of course. Jesus looks up and sees her there … and standing right next to her is the disciple whom he perhaps loved most of all – John. Seeing them there together, Jesus says to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son’ … and to his disciple, he says ‘here is your mother.’ (John 19:26,27). Jesus’ brothers had left him we are told earlier in John’s Gospel (John 7:5) and since Joseph had most probably died by this time, Mary was alone. So Jesus asks his dearest friend to take on the responsibility for the care of his mother.
Unjustly impaled on a cross, in utter agony of body and spirit, Jesus thinks not of himself but of the needs of his mother – his first and last touch with his incarnation. Jesus’ love is always rooted in the practical, the personal … in intimate relationship and reality. For Jesus ‘love’ is not a concept, a thought or philosophy? It is always eminently practical and personal! And as an outpouring of our love for God, we too must never ignore the responsibilities we carry in all our relationships – with both God himself and other people – and that that love must be rooted in the practical and personal!
Imagine how Jesus’ mother must have felt seeing her son there on the cross – his face and body bruised almost beyond recognition by the beatings, blood pouring from his wounds, his breathing shallow, his life slowly ebbing away. When Mary and Joseph had presented Jesus as a baby at the temple, Simeon had prophesied that Mary’s heart would be pierced (Luke 2:35). And pierced indeed, it was!
It has been said that ‘Christianity cannot be lived without a pierced heart!’