John 19:25-27 – 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 his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (NIV)
Mary, John, Salome and the two Marys were standing near the cross, Mary weeping silently. The others watched from a distance, according to Matthew, Mark and Luke. No one knows why the women and John came closer. John only tells us that when Jesus saw his mother and beloved disciple there, our Lord's thoughts were focused upon the plight of his mother. I imagine that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, may have been leaning for support upon John's arm. I wonder what memories and conversation passed between them, there at the foot of that blood-smelly tree. Did Mary of Magdala remember when Jesus had delivered her from deep mental and spiritual torment? Did Salome remember the time she had boldly asked for her sons to sit at Jesus' right and left hand when He came into his kingdom? Did she remember our Lord's words that she didn't know what she was asking? Did her eyes brim with tears as she remembered? Did she regret the folly of her arrogant ambition? Did the women talk together in hushed voices or did they stand in mute silence and wonder? Did they muse over missed opportunities? Did they have regrets? Did they feel the despair that deeply dashed hope engenders? The only conversation that is recorded is the one between Christ, His mother and the disciple John. It is clear that in the midst of His dying, Jesus is concerned with those who are living. The deep intimacy of that tragic scene comes into sharp focus as we contemplate it from the distance of time. We can no longer draw physically near to the foot of the cross as did the three Marys, Salome, and John; but we can draw near with our hearts. This Lenten Season, as we take time to think upon our Lord's suffering, death and resurrection, let us pray that we will come to know our Saviour intimately, love one another more deeply and truly, and reach out compassionately to those who suffer.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we gaze upon your woundedness, we are made sharply aware of our culpability. Lord God, for Jesus' sake forgive us our insensitivities and callous disregard for our fellow humans. Engender in us vibrant, loving, compassion for those who suffer, for we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.