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Woman, Behold Your Son
I find it disturbing - maybe you do too - that just when I think I know what to expect from Jesus, he says or does something unexpected. For instance, here as he is dying on the cross, he suddenly turns to his mother and says, "woman, behold your son." Then turning to the disciple whom he loved, he says to him, "Behold your mother."
Here he is nearly dead on the cross and he is looking after his mother and his good friend. The disciple and Jesus' mother go home together. A new relationship is formed; a new bond is created.
As he approaches death, Jesus is careful to look out for his mother, and also his good friend. Agonizing with the pain of the spikes in his hands, and the wound in his side, Jesus takes the time to work out an arrangement for his mother and his friend to take care of each other.
The gospel of John is very careful to specify, "from that hour the disciple took her into his own home." The two of them become a family. Jesus with his dying breath has formed a new family.
But it means more than that. The biblical scholar Gail O' Day has pointed out that symbolically Jesus is doing far more than taking care of his friend and family. After all, Jesus comments to his mother don't exactly show the intimacy of mother and son.
I don't know about you but if I ever called out to my mother by saying "Woman" I would never hear the end of it!!
Jesus is talking about more than looking out for two people he really cares about. He's talking about all of us caring for each other.
Jesus is doing more than creating a new family for his mother and his close friend. He is creating a new family for all of us. He is pointing in this action to the fact that all of us who follow him are to be family to each other.
Jesus speaks these words to every one of us, "Behold your mother, behold your son, behold your daughter, behold your sister, behold your brother, behold your father."
In Christ's death and resurrection he created for us a new family, and that family is gathered here today.
Christ gave us each other as a gift. And it doesn't matter if we are Roman Catholic or Presbyterian or Methodist or Lutheran or Episcopal or Congregational or Baptists, we are all family and we are to serve each other - care for each other - treat each other as loving sisters and brothers.
Take a look around you. Behold your mother, your son, your sister, your brother.
©Richard J. Henderson 2002