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. John 19: 26-27
I try to connect with her mother-heart. It is in the heart, or the gut, where we feel these things. Our child suffers some hurt or embarrassment and it is as if our entire chest turns to liquid and crashes into a heart-sized void at its center. Our heart goes out to them, we say. Perhaps that’s how it started for her when she first heard he’d been arrested. Her heart went out.
But that was hours ago. She’s endured much worse as the night and the morning wore on: waves of chilling fear; nausea, perhaps, at the brutality of it all; then, we hope for her sake, a numbing of the senses.
He hasn’t seen her yet. She longs to meet his eyes – and fears it.
When at last their eyes lock, how does she react? Again, I try to connect from my own meager experience. Once I helped hold down one of my sons during a medical test. The moment that most cut my heart and filled my eyes was when his screams of anger and fear collapsed into a whimper of defeat. Was it something like that for her, looking into those anguished eyes, their laughter gone and light dimming?
Her heart, going out to him, meets his coming out to her. His words are like a last will and testament. This Son-of-Man-with-no-place-to-lay-his-head has no property to bequeath. All he owned, his clothing, has just been divvied up in a soldier’s game. But his earthly affairs are not yet in order. His mother must be provided for.
… he said to his mother, “woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
There is comfort here – his concern for her cutting through his pain. And there is a call to look forward. She and the disciple are called to mutual servanthood, to let go the past and embrace what is to come.