9 – Mary is given to John as his mother by Jesus Mary, my mother
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
What a profound moment in both Mary and John’s life to hear their dying son and savior utter these last words. He could see them both standing there – witnessing to the world that this was of major importance. He knew his mother’s heart was united to his…. yet the distance was felt – he being totally unable to do anything for himself and she unable to comfort him much like when she held him as a newborn baby. Now she wanted to hold him again; but she could not. Mary had to wait until life left him and only then could she mourn and hold the worn, lifeless body. John drew close at the last supper, leaning into his beloved Jesus; seeking for that greater knowledge of what he was saying and would happen next. He had his own mother still alive – so what Jesus was stating would be written for all… it could be no other way.
My own mother was given to live a time of suffering and sacrifice. At 80 years old, she began the long walk of 14 years battling Alzheimers. I know so many grown children are having to deal with their parents and this disease, yet it is where great grace and gift are found. It wasn’t an accident Jesus gave Mary to John. She was now a widow. She would need help – but then again – so would all who believed Christ was the messiah yet now was gone from their eyes. When my dad couldn’t take care of my mom by himself, they both moved in with us. She was active but very confused and made our household a difficult place. Dad would get upset with her frequent questions over and over again. My husband, diagnosed with another form of Dementia at the same time – was jealous of my time with her and impatient with her antics of walking off the property or doing things that she shouldn’t. I had to watch her all the time. Dad fell ill with cancer and died within eight months of moving in. What would I now do – with two of them – how would I pick who to minister more towards or create a space of safety where they both felt loved and served?
I ponder as to if Jesus, in giving John to Mary, gives Mary to us – to all his disciples – as well. How often do we call upon our holy Mother in the Hail Mary prayer? So many times in their illnesses I would say Mary, help me, Mary, call on your son for me, I can’t do this. She would know from John – who being the only disciple to be at the cross – how hard it would be for all his followers. She needed to receive John, and all mankind, in her new role of Mother – our spiritual Mother, as we unite ourselves to our heavenly Father in the resurrection of Jesus. It is a profound thought that this “new Eve” – the one who would set the Fiat right in her self sacrifice, maturity, faith and great suffering would be our spiritual mother. There was no glory at the cross, nothing to shout Amen about – it was sorrowful and sad to see her son in this condition – yet she knew he was the God-man and she his mother, both with roles set out by the Father to redeem the world. Her role would now intensify for the whole world – for all time – and her fiat would not change – even as a widow and the mother of a God-man son who died; now she is called to be something even more …. participating in the great victory he won … and she knew this as she recalls her words to Elizabeth found in Luke 1:49:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
All of her Magnificat would be to help us in our journeys to heaven … to understand the messages Jesus gave – the healings administered – the justice and mercy due. My mom grew harder to keep track of along with my husband so I had to bring her to a local nursing home to live. She hated it at first and I did my best to be there as often as I could. We would take drives and go for walks and she would tell me stories of long ago. After several years she would grow more silent, sleep more and yet she always looked for my coming to visit. She would beg me not to leave. We changed roles as daughter and mother and it was a time of great tenderness to see her faith not leave her but suffering be accepted. On her last days she was afraid but we held hands and just looked at each other. At the end she was quiet; gone into conversation with Jesus and Mary I think- yet I held her and repeated it was going to be alright, over and over, trying tried to console myself as much as her. With her eyes closed, I would pray the rosary. A few times they would open and she would blink at me. I know Mary was there, to take her to heaven, to Jesus and my dad. I have great peace in knowing I did what I could for her and Mary was the mentor of my calmness through it all.
Mary most sorrowful, most tender,
mother of meekness,
docility and obedience;
Mary most holy, defend us,
protect us, pray for us.
Esther Marie Moloney.
May 26, 1924 – March 27, 2017
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Photos: Public Domain. File: Crucifixion VanDyckLouvre.jpg. Created: 1 January 1622