The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Mothering Sunday) - Reflection

'Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son’. John 19:26

Brothers and sisters, today we came together to remember and to honour our mothers, and those who have taken care of us like mums. Our mums do so much for us. They do things like wash our clothes, clean our rooms, make our meals, and kiss us good night. Other people can do all of these things, but it’s funny that in most cases, it’s our mums who do them all. If there is one person who is always there for us, right from the beginning of our lives, then most likely it’s our mum. Jesus’ mum is no exception. She was—of course—there when He was born, and ever since, Mary has been by His side. Even now He is grown up, and walking around Israel telling the nation about God, Mary seems to be with Him. Mary was there at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He turned water into wine… in fact we might almost say it’s Mary’s idea. And now—and this must be very sad for Mary—she is there at Jesus’ death. We’re told at the beginning of our story, John 19:25: ‘Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother’. It must have been heart breaking to see her child dying, but Mary will not be separated from her boy. So there she is, standing at the foot of the cross. Just as Mary loves her son—so like us—Jesus loves His mum. Back in those days, if you were a woman, life would have been very difficult on your own. Mary’s husband, Joseph, had most likely died, and so Mary would have been looked after by her children. Mary may well have been looked after by Jesus. Now Jesus is dying! What is going to happen to His mum? Who is going to take of Mary once Jesus has died? Even though Jesus must have been in terrible pain, He is still thinking about other people, Jesus is still thinking about His mum. If you had to find someone to take care of your mum, who would you ask? Would you ask someone in your family? Would you ask a friend? Would you ask someone from church? Who is going to take care of Mary? Well Jesus has a plan, verse 26: ‘When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son’.’ You see, Mary wasn’t the only person stood at the foot of the cross. Another person is standing watching, and it's the man who wrote the book of the Bible that our reading comes from. John is watching too. The one who would later write the Gospel, was watching Jesus die. This young man, was one of Jesus’ followers. This young man was a Christian. And now as Jesus is dying, He says to John: ‘I want you to be like a son to my mum. I want you to take care of my mum, and look after her. I want you, John, to make sure she has somewhere to sleep, and make sure she has enough food to eat.’ But then Jesus goes on, ‘And Mum, I want you to treat John, like your own son, like a member of the family.’

Now this seems lovely, doesn’t it? But if you were living back then, you’d also think it was a little odd. You see someone in Mary’s family was meant to take care of her once her son had died. Mary may have had other children. Mary certainly had other members of her family who could have taken care of her. So why does Jesus tell John—one of His followers—to take care of His mum? And the answer is, that Jesus believed what He had been teaching: That the Church—the Christian family, God’s family—was more important even than our biological family. Before Jesus came to earth, people were separated by all sorts of things, and sadly these things still separate people. Some people speak different languages. Some people follow different gods. Some people have different  coloured skin. Because of allthese differences, the people you were closest too were your own family. Your mum and dad, your sisters and brothers, your aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Your biological family, would speak the same language, follow the same gods, and have the same skin colour. The problem with this way was —though you were close to your family—you were separated from everyone else. More than that we weren’t just separated from other people… because of the things we had done wrong—because of our sin—we were separated from God! Now back to our story. We know where Mary was… at the foot of the cross. We know where John was… at the foot of the cross, but where is Jesus? Jesus is on the cross! Jesus is dying, so that we don’t need to be separated from God. Jesus is on the cross, so that we can be forgiven, and God will be our Father once again. Now, if I’ve been forgiven, and God is my father; and if you’ve been forgiven, and God is your father, then what does that make us? Brothers and sisters! Now because of the cross, we have a new family. We have new brothers and sisters made up of all those people who have been forgiven by God. It doesn’t matter if we speak different languages. It doesn’t matter if we used to follow other gods. It doesn’t matter if we have different coloured skin. We have now been made one family through one cross. Therefore, when Jesus thinks ‘Who should take care of my mum once I’ve died?’, He doesn’t think of His biological family. No, Jesus thinks of an even more important family—God’s family, the Church—which has been created by Him as He died on the cross.

This morning we gathered together as one family. We gathered together, with our uniformed organisations, as brownies and cubs, as rainbows and beavers, as guides and scouts, as young and old, as rich and poor. We gathered together to celebrate our mothers and to celebrate Jesus who made it possible for everyone who trusts Him to be part of a new family: His family! A family who prays together, sings together, and eats together. One family through One cross. Today, let us remember and celebrate our mums, but let us also celebrate and remember that if we follow Jesus we’re part of a new family. Then let’s go out from here determined to love our new family, and determined to invite others to join our family too! Amen (from Fr Mike).