Behold Your Mother

Reading         John 19:25-27


         Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister,

        Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.

        Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her,

        Jesus said to his mother,

        “Woman, this is your son.”

       Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.”

       And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.




“This is your mother.”  Jesus, in his dying hours, turns the attention to one particular individual in the crowd.  The spotlight falls on a woman standing beneath Him, His own mother. The “Man of Sorrows” Himself honours the “Mother of Sorrows”. The “ecce homo” and the “mater dolorosa” share in this great act of our redemption. Later in the Church year, we witness this in the manner of its celebrating the two feasts of the Triumph of the Cross and the Mother of Sorrows back-to-back. This reflects the profoundly integral union of solidarity of mother and son in this redemptive mission.



The sorrows are integral to her exalted vocation as the Mother of God. Mary’s double consent to the Incarnation and the Atonement associate her in a supreme way in the scheme of salvation.  As the mother of Jesus she is associated with her Son’s fate.  The opposition he encounters will affect her also.  “Your soul a sword shall pierce.”  She will feel sorrow in her soul because of the hostility that Jesus endures.  The resistance of people to Jesus must have been frightful for Mary. At times it overtook her with the deepest sorrow.  During his public life when he was treated by the Jewish religious authorities with growing hate and suspicion, Mary experienced ever-increasing grief.  But it is at the foot of the cross that ‘the sword pierced through her very soul’.  This is the climax, the epitome of Mary’s sorrow. 



Mary did not simply submit herself to the will of God and consent to the death of her Son. She actively participated in it. She stood at the foot of the cross.  Just as she had offered her Son back to the Father in the Temple some 33 years before, she now, on Calvary, offers her Son back to the Father.  It is ‘the appointed hour’. She is not merely engaged in witnessing the cruel spectacle, she is totally and utterly one with her son, her son who is dying, being offered up for the sake of the whole human race. The great destiny of her son’s act has a universal significance. She believes in the “glory of this hour” for all humankind.  She stands united with her son and God’s Son in that great mystery of redemption.



“Die well, Son, Do whatever you must do to obey all that the Father asks of you.  Abandon yourself totally to the Father.  This is your hour, the hour for all humanity’s great hope. So die well, Son.”  This is the offering and union of mother with Son together at the cross.  But what tremendous tension and intense interior pain this love was evoking in the depths of her soul.  Simeon’s prophecy is realized – “the sword pierced through her soul” with maximum intensity at the foot of the cross.



Yet it is a profound moment of agony and ecstasy; it is a moment of tension between grief and joy; it is a moment of suffering and exaltation at the same time.  How these seeming contraries are held together in one is by her tremendous communion in love with her Son. Her grief and pain are with the loss of her Son and all the extreme physical, emotional and mental strain that this exercised throughout her whole person. Her ecstasy was in the destiny of her Son. She believed in the universal significance of this hour for the redemption of all humankind.  Her loss, her agony, her deep sorrow transpire in a profound mother-son communion in love.  Beyond the cross is the glory; in dying is resurrection.  A great love equals a great suffering. The greater one’s capacity for love, the more intense one’s capacity for suffering. Intense suffering equals immense love.



Today we celebrate in the Church’s liturgy, the ultimate manifestation of Love in Jesus’ death on a cross. “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son,” the Son who endured for all of humanity once and for all time, the final saving action. Mary, mother of sorrows, is there at the foot of that death bed, united in Jesus’ great action of love. She is joined by an inseparable bond as she participated in the saving work of her Son.  In her, the Church holds up and admires the most excellent and faultless model of what each of us in the Church wholly desires and hopes to be - a partaker and co-redeemer with Christ, ‘making up in our bodies, in our sufferings, the work of Christ, as St. Paul says.



The command of Jesus’ words: “Behold your Mother” is such a loving last testament to all of humanity. Truly we behold in Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, our mother as well, the mother of the whole human race, the new Eve. She stands within the new paradigm of the New Law - the Law of Love. We see beyond her deep penetrating sorrow to the intense communion in love with her Son that makes her the sublime co-redeemer and sharer in the glory and exaltation of the cross of Jesus Christ.  “This is your Mother.”



Carrying Grace   I shall stand tall with Mary beside the ‘cross’ I am bearing this day!





#1 arletteh 2010-04-03 00:50
It is with deep gratitude in my heart for this meditation on the sufferings of Mary that I respond:All the evangelists include the presence of the women at the crucifixion of Jesus.Women were, from our modern point of view, on the periphery of life, at least, in its public acknowledgment of them. Yet, what strength comes through here, ,what un forgettable presence of these women.They had lodged themselves for ever in the admiration of the observers .Our homilist today spoke on the words:"It is finished" by reflecting on some of the scenes of the film"Jesus of Nazareth " He saw the ultimate meaning of these events when, at the end, Mary's eyes turned full into th camera ,and with the devastation, the agony, the sense of senselessness, was seen a deep peace!

You must LOGIN to add a comment.