Friday, April 22, 2011

A Reflection on the Third Word


Third Word: John 19:26-27
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

            Jesus’ mother makes one other appearance in John. Do you remember where it is? At the wedding in Cana. She takes note that the wine is running out and alerts Jesus to that fact. When Jesus says to her, “Woman, my hour has not yet come.” She turns away from him and tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

            In John’s gospel, Jesus’ mother not only already knows what Jesus can do; she knows to expect him to do it. For the Evangelist, the author of the Fourth Gospel, Jesus’ mother believes in the capability of God in Jesus before Jesus does himself. She represents a group of people, of believers, who grasped the truth of the Living Word as John puts it in the Gospel prologue: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth… No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”

            Jesus’ mother believes in him from the beginning of his ministry and here she is at what seems like the end. She’s standing there on Golgotha, next to the disciple whom Jesus loved. Who is that? Didn’t Jesus love all of his disciples? It could be the author of this gospel or someone else, unknown to us. The disciple who Jesus loved represents, in a way, those who came to know Jesus and God’s power in him later in the day.

            The identity of the disciple isn’t known and doesn’t matter. What we need to know are two things. First, that Jesus loved this disciple and second, that the disciple took Jesus’ mother into his own home in that very hour.

            The disciple didn’t wait until after the resurrection or when there was more time or when things were a little more stable financially. There was no equivocation to Jesus about the hardship of caring for his mother, questions about reimbursement or reward or making a plan to move her somewhere else few years. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

            From that hour, people who believed in Jesus were a new kind of family, drawn together in faith and given instruction through the commandment to love one another.

            From that hour, the family tree of God had bloodlines that were not defined by DNA, but by Christ and the cross.

            From that hour, relationships were reshaped, neither through conventional birth nor the will of the flesh or the will of man, but through God.

            From that hour, Jesus’ family had a different look. God’s family had a different look. From that hour, there was a call to new, different and real kind of relational existence within people of faith with one another and with all creation. From that hour, divisions were put to death and the possibility of a new kind of wholeness was created.

            Yet, do we allow that wholeness to live? Do we look at one another and say, “You are my sister and my brother, my mother and my father, my son and my daughter, because Christ has made it so?” Do we allow the biggest thing the world has ever known to unite us or do we allow the smallest things we can find divide us?

            And, so we find ourselves, again, at the foot of the cross, together, and wondering how we can make our relationship with one another work beyond this moment?

            At this stage, we who are also beloved disciples should be like Jesus’ mother, already aware of the power of God in him and trusting in his capabilities in our lives and in the world. Are we ready to participate in God’s re-ordering of our relationships through the cross? Are you prepared to be changed in this hour through the power and promise of what has already been done for you?

            When Jesus’ mother told the servants to do whatever he said, he told them to go fill the stone jars with water and then to take a taste to the steward. How long did it take for the water to turn into wine?

            We don’t know. It just happened. And the same thing happened on the cross. “You will take care of her and she of you.” “You will take care of him and he of you.” It just happened. From that hour.

            And here’s the thing. We can taste the wine and marvel at the goodness of the Lord together, in the new kind of relationship into which we have been invited and called. Or we can stand at the foot of the cross and wait for more instructions. How long will that take?

            It just happened. It just happened. It just happened.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Amen.

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