Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who Would Give their Mother Away? Jesus.

After Jesus is stripped of his clothes
and left hanging naked on the cross,
there is a moment filled with gentleness and kindness.

Jesus, seeing his mother [standing near the cross]
and the disciple whom he loved,
says to her: "Woman, behold your son."
Then he says to the disciple:
"Behold your mother."
 John 19:26, 27

The writer adds that from that hour on, the hour of the death of Jesus,
the beloved disciple takes the mother of Jesus
as the Greek says,
"into what belonged to him":
"what was truly his own, the treasure of his heart."

This could appear to be an act of kindness of Jesus.
As a good son, he is thinking of his mother's future.
But other implications of this last gesture of Jesus
are revealed in the full context of the Gospel of John.
Immediately after entrusting his mother to the beloved disciple,
the evangelist tells us:

Jesus knew that all was now accomplished.

What is this mission that Jesus has accomplished
and about which he said to the Father:

I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do
John 17:4
What is at work here?
Is it not to bring people, made holy
by the presence of the Holy Spirit, into unity
so that they may be one
as Jesus and the Father are one? (John 17:21)

The final gesture of Jesus is to bring Mary and John into oneness
as he and the Father are one,
to create a covenant of love between them.

Jesus does not say to the beloved disciple,
"Behold my mother."
He says:
"Behold your mother"
By giving his mother as the mother of the beloved disciple
Jesus is calling her to give life to the beloved disciple,
to bring Jesus to birth, as it were, within him,
so that the disciple may dwell in Jesus and Jesus in him.
And in the same gesture,
the beloved disciple is being called to become Jesus for his mother,
for she has only one son: Jesus.
Here is the supreme unity of love and communion.

Origen, a prominent theologian,
was born about 80 years after the death of John the Evangelist.
For him, this moment is essential
to full understanding of the Gospel of John.
In the introduction to his commentary, he writes:

Nobody can really understand this gospel
unless they too have reclined on the heart of Jesus
and received Mary as mother as the beloved disciple did.
Those "fathers of the church" who followed Origen
loved to make a comparison between
Mary giving birth to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit,
and Mary giving birth through the power of the Holy Spirit
to the beloved disciple,
to all the beloved disciples,
and to the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

Excerpt from Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John, 2004.