The third word: “Behold thy son; behold thy mother.” Reply

The curses and insults have begun to dwindle. The large crowd is no longer interested in watching Jesus die. The show is over. He shudders and groans, but not much else. Some had hoped that something fantastic would happen—a flash of light and boom, Christ was down from the cross; but no, he just suffers and slowly dies. Even the chief priests and the leaders are now loosing interest. They have gotten the blood they wanted. They have seen Christ’s crucifixion with their own eyes; they have secured his death. They continue to blaspheme him but their bravado wanes. Our Lord suffers with dignity. He does not reply or give them any recognition. Their insults begin to feel hollow and foolish, and they leave one by one.

As they filter away a new group draws near. It consists of three women: “There stood beside the cross of Jesus his mother, his mother’s sister, and Mary of Magdalene. This is a scene that is beautiful, but hard to watch: a mother witnessing her only son tortured to death before her very eyes. How we would like to take Mary by the arm as she approaches her son! She has in her gaze a look of grave concern but without despair. Even the soldiers seem struck by her strength and allow her to stand right next to Jesus.  She gently places her hand on his crucified feet. She would rather be no place else, for this is God’s will, and she knows he has freely chosen it; she is always beside her son, as she is always beside us.

The words of Mary during the apparition at Guadalupe jump to mind, “Am I not here who am your mother? Did I not once hold you on my lap and take care of everything?” Did she say these same words as she looked up into her son’s eyes? They are words that fill us with peace, security, confidence, and certainty—mom is here; surely they did the same for our Lord in his suffering. Perhaps it was the only comfort he received during his three hours of agony.

What a great blessing it is to have Mary as our mother! Everyday we are able to rejoice in the gift of Christ to his Church, to us. Whenever we pray the beads of the Rosary, we are reminded of Christ’s promise upon the cross, “Behold your mother.” She is our mother. Our Lord’s words should always find an echo in our hearts—and not just there—but also in successes and fears, in our triumphs and sufferings, in our security and in our nervousness, whatever it is that we experience as children, our mother is there.

“Am I not hear, your mother?” May we remember this always—both now and at the hour of our death, amen.

During Holy Week, I will be posting a daily reflection on the 7 Last Words of Christ. 

Fr Jason Smith

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