In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ mother is never named and appears just twice: first, at the wedding feast at Cana, and again at the foot of the Cross. One, an occasion of great joy, the other of the greatest possible sorrow.

Standing with Jesus’ mother is another unnamed person, called throughout the Gospel “the disciple Jesus loved.” Christian tradition identifies this person as John the Evangelist. Yet a plausible explanation for his anonymity in the text is that John wants each one of us to imagine ourselves as the “beloved disciple.” To see ourselves beholding Jesus’ glory. To see ourselves drawn in close to Jesus with the greatest tenderness, reclining at his side.

And to hear Jesus’ words as addressed to us here and now: “Woman, here is your child… child, here is your mother.” Theologians have pondered this gesture for centuries, often suggesting that Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be “taken care of” after his death. With all due respect, the reverse is probably more likely: Jesus sees us at the foot of the Cross, and gives his mother to take care of us. No stronger person has walked this earth than Mary of Nazareth. We have no sorrow with which she cannot relate. There are no tears that we can cry – of pain or of joy – that she does not know. She is his mother. She is our mother.


Rev. Timothy W. O’Brien, S.J. ‘06