Motherhood binds women together. You can meet a complete stranger and before you know it, you end up swapping birth stories, breastfeeding information, potty-training tips, funny anecdotes, child-rearing challenges, and sometimes even heartbreak.
So, as I sit here and think about Mary, I feel a real connection with her. My mother’s heart thinks about the agony her heart must have experienced as she observed the events of this week some 2000+ years ago.
Station 12: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Beloved Disciple
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 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. John 19: 25-27
To the very end, Jesus honored his mother (and father). As he was dying on the cross, he looked down on those gathered and caught sight of his mother, probably in tears. And he made sure he charged someone to take care her after he was gone.
But Mary… what must have been going through her mind during those few days?
Think about Mary… her life was turned upside down by the birth of her firstborn son. Despite the whispers of people wondering what she and Joseph had been up to, she knew that she had found favor with God. She probably wondered to herself, “What did I do to deserve such an honor?”
And then his birth… surrounded by livestock. If you’ve had a baby, you remember labor… you remember the pain and the excitement and the nervousness that surround a birth, especially that first child. And then that first cry. And then how the small baby Jesus felt as he was laid against her chest. That exhilaration and amazement and wonder and love… oh the love!
She would have kissed all over his little wiggly body… admiring his features: his wrinkly little brow – where later a crown of thorns would sit. His lips – the ones that would later utter “Father, forgive them!” His little hands – that would be calloused by his work as a carpenter, yet capable of such a gentle, healing touch, and later pierced by a nail. His chubby little feet – that would later walk from town to town spreading his message of hope and love, yet later to be pierced as well.
The excitement of all those firsts in life… even his dedication in the temple. Would the words from Simeon in the temple come echoing back into her mind. “A sword will pierce your own soul, too.” How shocking that must have been for a new mother to hear? Why would anyone say anything so cruel? Did those words haunt her during those 33 years? I’m sure she fully understood them as she stood on Calvary watching her sweet boy hang on the cross.
I can’t imagine that anguish… She must have felt so helpless. Did she feel anger at his friends for running and hiding and leaving her son alone in the moment he needed them most? Did she want to shout to the crowd her son was innocent? Did she feel regret that she encouraged him at the Wedding in Cana to reveal himself by turning water into wine? Maybe she shouldn’t have pushed him… maybe this never would have happened…
But then the resignation. Mary – the first disciple, really. The first one who really believed that Jesus was the Son of God. The one who treasured all those early moments in her heart. The one who always knew her son had a special purpose in life.
Did she see her grown son in those moments? Or did she see her little, sweet boy? How badly she must have wanted to attend to his wounds – momma’s kiss to make it feel better. They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. But in this instance, as Jesus was dying, I can assure you that His life flashed before Mary’s eyes. His first coos, his first smile, his first word, first steps, first fish he caught, first carpentry project, the way he looked when he slept, his laugh, his smile, his hugs, the sound of his voice when he called to her… all of it.
Oh, Mary… how did you feel cradling your grown son after he was removed from the cross? Did you insist on washing his body in preparation for burial – giving your son his final bath as you had given him his first? Or were you too broken up and so very thankful for the other women in your life who could handle that task- those women who understood just how special your son was and stuck with you and him throughout this whole ordeal?
Mary… Mother Mary, how did you feel just a few days later when the women burst through your door and announced, “He’s alive!”… just how good did that feel?