Sunday

22 March 2020

John 19:25-27

Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ (v. 27a)

Psalm: Psalm 34:11-20

Background

As church services are cancelled because of the risk of infection and many families are isolated from their loved ones, Mothering Sunday has an extra poignancy. It falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally a day for people to visit their mother church. It has come to be an annual celebration of the love given by and returned to mothers, and, of course, an opportunity for florists and card shops to do business. Even in a normal year it can be a challenging day, easily slipping into sentimentality or becoming an occasion of pain and loneliness for those who are childless or bereaved. Today it will be even more difficult. This short reading, from John’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus, underlines the tragedy that is all too often part of the experience of motherhood. As John paints the scene, most of the disciples of Jesus have fled, leaving only a group of four women, together with someone described as "the disciple whom he loved", watching and waiting with Jesus in the agony that leads to his death.  But in this terrible moment, as Mary contemplates the loss of her beloved son, there is this word of Jesus. He invites his mother and his faithful disciple to care for one another, to become a new family in which the love (agape) of God is made real.

Commentators note that this is only the second time that Mary, the mother of Jesus, features in John’s Gospel. The first was the story of the wedding at Cana (also the occasion for a new family to form), where Jesus performs the miracle of turning water into wine. Then, as now, Jesus addressed his mother as ‘woman’. These two references to Mary link the whole ministry of Jesus with the life of the Christian community that will begin after the resurrection.

 

To Ponder:

  • How does your personal experience resonate with this story of love, loss and mutual care?
  • Who might Jesus be asking you to welcome into your family, to love and care for?
  • How can you express love and hospitality within the current health restrictions?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Richard Clutterbuck

Richard Clutterbuck is a minister of the Methodist Church in Britain. Between 2004 and 2017 he served the Irish Methodist Church as principal of Edgehill Theological College in Belfast. Previously his ministry has been divided between pastoral appointments in North London and theological education in the South Pacific (Tonga), Britain and Ireland.

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