25 Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Even Jesus did not always have what we’d call a perfect family life (cf. Mark 3:21, 31-35). John 7:5 said that his brothers didn’t believe in him. But even on the cross, Jesus used some of his fading strength to serve his mother’s needs. In Jesus’ day a widow with no son or other male relative to protect her had few legal rights and little status. In the midst of his suffering, he provided for his mother by asking one of his most faithful followers to care for her.
Care. Offering care and compassion to those who are lonely and in grief can be a powerful experience of connection.
Visit a care home. Among the residents there may be those who are lonely and in need of connection. They may have lost loved ones (a spouse, a child, a dear friend). They may have stories to share about their life, spend time listening to their memories.
Lord Jesus, you lived out the beauty of caring, serving and loving. Make me into a person who can serve caringly in all the relationships I’m a part of. Amen.
Many people have a “family of choice” as well as a “family of origin.” That is, friends with whom we are close, to whom we turn and on whom we rely, who function as family and who are sometimes as close or closer than our family of origin. Jesus does this, too. He expands family beyond biological ties as he calls his followers into new relationships (Mark 3:33-35).
Here, in John 19, Jesus invites two people into a new relationship of care. There is an Irish saying: "It is in the shelter of one another that we live.” Jesus invites his mother Mary and his friend John to shelter one another, to be a family of choice. Even on the cross Jesus is making family.
In the first few centuries of Christianity, early Christians used the language of family to describe themselves--brothers and sisters in Christ, mother or father in the faith, the household (oikos) of God. In fact, the larger Roman culture persecuted Christians for creating these new “families of choice.” This was seen as a threat to the traditional Roman family household.
I wonder if I, too, can respond to Jesus’ invitation and see all the possible families of choice in my life. This doesn’t mean I abandon my family of origin, people whom I cherish. However, Jesus--even from the cross!--does invite me to expand my definition of family and the ways I shelter others’ lives and allow them to shelter mine.
Where do you see family in your life today?
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