Tomorrow, May 9, is Mother's Day, we celebrate the lives of our mothers, the role they played in shaping us. It is a day to show our devotion and love to the person who tendered and cared for us in her womb, after we are born, and throughout our lives as long as she lives. I celebrate and love my mother, too. But it is also a time to celebrate and love our heavenly Mother, the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary. In this, it is timely to recall the catechesis of Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1997:
To the disciple he said, ‘Behold your Mother’
After recalling the presence of Mary and the other women at the Lord’s cross, St John relates: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’. Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” (Jn 19:26-27).
These particularly moving words are a “revelation scene”: they reveal the deep sentiments of the dying Christ and contain a great wealth of meaning for Christian faith and spirituality. At the end of his earthly life, as he addressed his Mother and the disciple he loved, the crucified Messiah establishes a new relationship of love between Mary and Christians.
Interpreted at times as no more than an expression of Jesus’ filial piety towards his Mother whom he entrusts for the future to his beloved disciple, these words go far beyond the contingent need to solve a family problem. In fact, attentive consideration of the text, confirmed by the interpretation of many Fathers and by common ecclesial opinion, presents us, in Jesus’ twofold entrustment, with one of the most important events for understanding the Virgin’s role in the economy of salvaion.
The words of the dying Jesus actually show that his first intention was not to entrust his Mother to John, but to entrust the disciple to Mary and to give her a new maternal role. Moreover, the epithet “woman”, also used by Jesus at the wedding in Cana to lead Mary to a new dimension of her existence as Mother, shows how the Saviour’s words are not the fruit of a simple sentiment of filial affection but are meant to be put at a higher level.
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