Monday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 27:55-56, 61; Mark 15:40-41, 47; Luke 23:49, 55; John 19:25-27

Those Faithful Women

You will remember that Luke 8:1-3 mentions several women who followed Jesus and his disciples about, “who provided for them out of their means.”  Well, here we see women again – Matthew, Mark, and Luke record them “looking on from a distance,” while John mentions those at the foot of the cross.  (Mary Magdalene, who at first stood at a distance, moved to the cross by the time John mentions her.)  Their names vary in the gospels.  With the exception of the aforementioned Mary who appears in every list, the rest of those names are: Mary the mother of Joseph and James “the younger” (that being the other disciple named James), the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Salome), Mary the wife of Clopas, and Jesus’ own mother.  These were the women who followed all the way from Galilee and ministered unto him; and here they are at his crucifixion.  In fairness to the disciples who had scattered (with the exception of John), these women had nothing to lose by showing up; that is, the authorities would not be out to get them.  Still, their love for Jesus was such that they would have been there even if it had cost their lives.  Men are more prone to sacrifice their lives for soil, country, or a cause that grips them; women will sacrifice their lives for love, and that is what is on display here at the foot of the cross.

John focuses on our Lord’s mother.  As Joseph is no longer mentioned after Jesus’ boyhood three-day tour in the temple (Luke 2:41-52), we assume that Mary is widowed.  As Jesus did not begin his ministry until about age thirty (Luke 3:23), and as he was the oldest child, we may also assume that he stayed home in his twenties to support his mother and younger siblings running his late father’s carpentry shop.  No doubt, Jesus and his mother were as close as any mother and son could be, both for reasons of maternal and filial love, and because of his special calling to which Mary, of course, was privy.  At any rate, one can only imagine the torture her soul endured while looking on the son she loved, whom she bore as the Lord’s handmaid.  Jesus had a mission to fulfill that would procure Mary’s salvation as well as ours; but in that true humanity of his, it must have grieved him ever so much that the woman he was dying to save was the same woman who had lived her life for him, and, I’m sure, would have gladly traded places with him.  Mary had a difficult calling in life – to love the boy she would one day give away.  So Jesus sees to her care by committing her to John.

Christians belong to the Lord, including their children.  We must understand that our lives are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and that we are called to give one another up for Kingdom service.  May we be as obedient as Mary.

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