Wednesday 7 March 2012

Seven Last Words: "Woman, behold your son . . . behold your mother"

(John 19:26-27)  
During the seven weeks of Lent we invite you to  come and stand with us at the foot of the Cross as we listen to the 'Seven Last Words' spoken by Jesus.  Each week we will post a reflection which will seek guidance from these words as we, his Church today, like him, experience betrayal, criticism, abandonment and disownment.
In this third weekly Lenten Reflection we shall listen to Christ's plea for us to lovingly embrace one another as family; considering these words in the context in which Jesus spoke them and questioning how they affect our perception of Church and our place in it today.

The presence of Mary and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross remind us that Jesus was a real human being; a man who had once been a boy, who had once been carried in the womb of his mother, who had once been a dear friend.  A man who had laughed, cried, and loved.  Even as he was dying on the cross as the Son of God, Jesus remained a son, a brother, and a friend.  And there, in the midst of this injustice, inhumanity, and brutality, flickers another moment of love and tenderness; a heartbroken mother and a distraught friend remain near their beloved Jesus.  With what little strength he had left, Jesus entrusts each to the other.  Selfless to the end his love and concern for them reveals itself.  

Mary and the beloved disciple brought the love of a mother and that of a friend to the foot of the cross and from the cross Jesus commissions them to become one family.  We witness no competition or rivalry between them for the love and favour of Jesus.  They love Jesus and in response to him they offer their love and concern to each other.  Similarly today, each of us is brought to Christ by a different manner of love.  Often we do not recognise our God in the love of another person.  We can dismiss their faith as traditional or progressive, as too pious or as too intellectually removed.  We may see it as a threat to strict Catholic Orthodoxy to be silenced or expelled.  How different from Jesus’ message from the cross; to unite in our love of Jesus as one family.  Today, we are given the task of reaching across all the boundaries and hostilities that divide human beings and saying, ‘behold my sister’, ‘behold my brother’, ‘behold my mother’.

Do you dismiss the love that others have for Christ or maybe see the love that others have as of more value than your own?  (short pause)

Do you see the Church as existing in just four walls or within certain structures?  (short pause)

Do you allow yourself to take responsibility for your role in the Church?  (short pause)

Do you focus all your love towards Christ on the cross and refuse to see your neighbour beside you as your sister, your brother or your mother? (short pause)

It goes to the very roots of our Christian belief that through our baptism we are adopted into the family of God.  Jesus, by making Mary mother of the beloved disciple, was making himself our brother and asking us to become sisters, brothers and mothers to each other.  To be a Christian is to recognize that at the foot of the cross is born our family, from which no one who loves Jesus can be excluded.  That family, that living-church that Jesus commissioned, does not just exist in Rome, or Drumcondra, or Armagh, or among the Bishops, or the priests, or the brothers, or the sisters.  Yes there, but not just there; Church belongs to every one of us and every one of us is Church – we, as disciples, sisters, brothers, and mothers of Christ gathered here tonight make up this Church; we are Church and are responsible for our Church as much as any other group of men or women.  Today, in our broken and fragmented situation we can do no greater service to Jesus than listen to and act upon His words to re-embrace our church as a loving-family-community.

Prayer for the week:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!  Amen.

Come and Join us....
If you live in Dublin why not come and be present for our 'Seven Last Words' Lenten Reflections?  The above reflection will be part of a 30 minute meditation held at the Our Lady of the Angels Capuchin Church on Church Street each Friday of Lent beginning at 8:00pm.  Music for these reflections will be provided by the CYC chamber choir (you can read the reflection for week one here and for week two here).

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