Jesus' dying words were a gift of community to those He loved most:
"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother,
'Woman, behold, your son.'
Then he said to the disciple,
'Behold, your mother.'"
As Mary's physical motherhood ends with Jesus' death, He asks her to begin a spiritual motherhood, not just for John, but for any, for all, who might desire to slip their name into Scripture as "the disciple whom [Jesus] loved." (John wrote several opportunities in his Gospel account for readers to substitute their names as "the beloved disciple" of Jesus. See John 13:23, John 19:26, John 20:2, John 21:7, John 21:20.)
This is the fifth post in a series on how Mary's Seven Sorrows reflect our seven basic human desires. Consider the desire to be included in light of Mary's Fifth Sorrow, Jesus Dies on the Cross.
As Jesus died, He created a community, a spiritual family, for his disciples that continues even today. And Mary, recognizing her unique relationship with Jesus wasn't meant to be exclusive, expands her motherhood; she desires to include anyone in need of a spiritual mother.
Each of us longs to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Are there groups in your life where you know that you belong no matter what? Sometimes we pretend to be different than we are to feel included. Sometimes we exclude others to feel more secure in our own inclusion.
Our first experience of community is within our family. As a child, did you feel included in your family? Did you feel known, welcomed, and included in your early church experiences? Sometimes a bad encounter at church makes us think God is exclusive—definitely not interested in someone like me.
But Jesus loves community. He said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Anywhere and anytime we get together, Jesus desires to be present and included. Do you believe God wants a friendship with you that's deeply genuine, that goes far beyond "polite-dinner-conversation" into honesty, vulnerability, and true inclusion?
When Jesus died, Mary responded to his invitation to community by opening her heart to all as a spiritual mother. How will I respond? Are there ways I can open my heart to include others, to create communities where people feel invited and welcomed?
As a parent, how can I meet my child's need to be included?
Next week, we'll reflect on Mary's Sixth Sorrow, Our Lady Receives Christ's Body From the Cross, in light of our basic human desire to be heard and understood.
You can read the first post in this series (Sorrow, Prophecy, & The Desire To Be Affirmed) here.
You can read the second post in this series (Sorrow, Escape, & The Desire To Be Safe) here.
You can read the third post in this series (Sorrow, Absence, & The Desire To Be Chosen) here.
You can read the fourth post in this series (Sorrow, Suffering, & The Desire To Be Touched) here.
For more information on the seven basic human desires, check out: Seven Desires: Looking Past What Separates Us to Learn What Connects Us by Mark & Debra Laaser.