B15 EASTER - Passion
St. John 19.vv.25-30
~ Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son". Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother". And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), "I am thirsty". A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished". Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. ~
One of the most pathetic representations in Christian imagery is the Pieta, a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary lamenting over the dead body of Christ which she holds on her knees. When Jesus was presented in the Temple on the eighth day of his life, the aged priest Simeon foretold that a sword would pierce her soul, and at the foot of the cross we see the fulfilment of that prophecy.
In churches we often see a picture of a little group at the foot of the cross; or simply the sorrowing mother and a Disciple to whom Jesus commended his mother. In his agony on the cross, Jesus triumphed over suffering, and though the salvation of the world was in the balance, yet Jesus thought of the loneliness and pain of his mother and the beloved Disciple. In commending each to the care of the other, Jesus gives us a haunting memory of his love and concern.
As parents and children we know the close bonds that tie us to our mothers, and the pain and loss of a child. Kipling wrote, "If I were hanged on the highest hill, I know whose love would follow me still. If I were drowned in the deepest sea, I know whose tears would come down to me. If I were damned of body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole". Such is the bond of mother and child.
This scene at the cross is something that has endeared many Christians to the words of the Eucharistic prayer that runs, "He opened wide his arms for us on the cross". From this tender scene we can learn so much. First, we can be assured that we do not suffer alone, for we are part of the family for whom Christ died. Even if there is, humanly speaking, no one with us in our pain and suffering, we can be assured that Christ is with us in our agony. Secondly, we know that we do not pray alone, for prayer from the family of the church is ever ascending. Sometimes we feel that we cannot endure the pain and suffering that we see in the world and to which we too are exposed. It is then that we need to remember that God and he alone can, and wills, to look with compassion on the anguish of the world, for he and he alone can bring wholeness to nations and individuals. Sometimes our hearts fail us as we contemplate the future and the burdens we may be called upon to endure. Then is the time to remember our Lord's words, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring troubles of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today". No-one is asked to bear tomorrow's burden today.