Woman, Behold Your Son – Part 2

11 04 2018

[Dear Readers, This is the second post about bringing an awareness of Jesus’ mother Mary’s presence into the Christian observation of Lent, to augment her centrality to Advent and the Christmas story. The Bible leaves much untold, and I love to imagine scenes that might have happened, which is what these posts do.  Please read the first post before this, if you haven’t. Imagine with me!  Knowing how much I love to be with and look up to my adult son, it was easy for me to picture this scene…]

It is said that the hardest thing in life for a parent is to have a child die before them.  Mary, as any mom would be, was present, observing—no, sharing—her son’s suffering, over hours.  And hours. Not in a sickbed, but at a crucifixion, publicly humiliated, tortured and bleeding and in pain, excruciatingly dying.  And yet he was still actively caring:  forgiving his murderers—and his fearful friends; making sure she had John to go to after Jesus had died, saying, “Woman, behold thy son,” referring to his disciple and friend.  I have used this sentence as my title here, to ponder Mary looking upon her first son as well.

When did she first get to see him alive?

He may have appeared in the room where she sat in grief, surrounded by her friends and relatives sitting shiva, gathered for a week of mourning and accompanying the bereft.

An audible gasp from the mourners—in unison—then silence.  Someone whispers, “Mary, look!”  She lifts her eyes and sees her son, standing before her.  There was no small reaction!  A scream of joy.  Tears.  Disbelief, belief, jumping up, hugging, bowing down, touching him from head to toe, taking his hands, solid but different.  Looking into his eyes, crinkled in a smile of joy and gratitude.  “Isha, mother, it’s me.”  Her knees give way.   “Here.  Sit by me.”

They all speak and move at once.  Shouting, hugging, touching.  Touching.  As so many people did before…that.  Bring him food!  Of course.

He sits next to her and she holds his arm and won’t let go.  He pats her hand, and lets her.  For a bit.  She can look at nothing else.  She sees nothing else.  He whispers, “Mother, I can’t stay long.  There is much I need to do.”  He is not only referring to this reunion visit.

After a time, he gets up to go.  “I have much to do,” he announces to the now-animated group.  “But remember me here.  It’s really me.  Alive–not a ghost.  Prophecies fulfilled.  You all did not have an apparition together,” he grinned.  “May I take some of that bread to the brothers in Emmaus?”  And like that, he is gone again.

Mary gets up in the middle of the chatter—you can imagine the questions!  How?  Why?  Mary, all this time you said he was special.  Dead.  Alive.  The buzz will echo centuries later.

Mary pulls off the black veil of mourning and replaces it with her best, brightest shawl.  “This will tell everybody!”

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