Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
19:25 his mother’s sister: Possibly “Salome”, the mother of the apostles James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).
19:26 Woman: The address sounds impersonal to modern readers but was considered polite in biblical antiquity. ● Jesus probably alludes to Gen 3:15, which describes the mother of the Messiah as the “woman” whose offspring conquers the devil (CCC 726, 2618). behold your son!: Jesus honors his Mother by entrusting her to the protective care of the Apostle John, presumably because Mary had no other children to assume the responsibility. The Church maintains that Jesus’ Mother, Mary, remained a virgin throughout her life. These so-called brethren of Jesus are thus his relatives but not children of Mary. Four observations support the Church’s tradition: (1) These brethren are never called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (Jn 2:1; 19:25; Acts 1:14). (2) Two names mentioned, James and Joseph, are sons of a different “Mary” in Mt 27:56 (Mk 15:40). (3) It is unlikely that Jesus would entrust his Mother to the Apostle John at his Crucifixion if she had other natural sons to care for her (Jn 19:26–27). (4) The word “brethren” (Gk. adelphoi) has a broader meaning than blood brothers. Since ancient Hebrew had no word for “cousin”, it was customary to use “brethren” in the Bible for relationships other than blood brothers. In the Greek OT, a “brother” can be a nearly related cousin (1 Chron 23:21–22), a more remote kinsman (Deut 23:7; 2 Kings 10:13–14), an uncle or a nephew (Gen 13:8), or the relation between men bound by covenant (2 Sam 1:26; cf. 1 Sam 18:3). Continuing this OT tradition, the NT often uses “brother” or “brethren” in this wider sense. Paul uses it as a synonym for his Israelite kinsmen in Rom 9:3. It also denotes biologically unrelated Christians in the New Covenant family of God (Rom 8:29; 12:1; Col 1:2; Heb 2:11; Jas 1:2; CCC 500). ● John is not just an individual disciple, he is portrayed by the evangelist as an icon of every disciple whom Jesus loves. In this sense, Mary is given to all beloved disciples of Christ, just as every disciple is given to the maternal care of Mary. The assumption here is that family relations are extended beyond the limits of natural lineage, so that every baptized believer has God as a Father, Christ as an eldest brother, Mary as a Mother, and the saints as brothers and sisters (CCC 501, 964, 2679).
Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our Gospel Jesus entrusts care of his mother to St. John. We can see some background for this profound action in The Passion of the Christ, the most provocative and popular religious movie in decades. What I would like to do is simply highlight a theme from the movie that especially struck me when I saw it.
The theme that I would like to emphasize is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are compelled to see the scenes through her eyes. Early in Luke’s Gospel, we are told that Mary “contemplated these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She is the theologian par excellence, the one who understands. When she sees Jesus being led away, she weeps and then she says “Amen.”
In scene after scene, we watch her spiritual comprehension. The wonderful scene where she is marked with the Blood of her Son is especially evocative. And then the Pieta depiction at the very end, where we see Mary’s role: to present the sacrifice of her Son to us and for us.
= Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.