Daily Lenten Reflection
John 19:26–27: “Here is your son. Here is your mother.”
Here: relevant, present, now
Where is your family?
With these words, Jesus continues some of the most important work he did in his life, even as he’s dying.
He turns people toward each other.
He offers them to each other.
It’s what he did when he called disciples, taught and trained them, and sent them out together to teach and to heal. It’s what he did when his relatives came looking for him when he was attracting a lot of attention, drawing a crowd. When people said, “your mother and brothers are outside looking for you,” Jesus expanded the notion of family, widened that idea beyond those to whom he was related, to include all of the people he was with, saying, “This is my family! All who do the will of God are my family.” And from the cross, Jesus sees perhaps the two people who love him most, his mother and his dear friend, both in pain. And with some of his very last words, he gives them to each other.
I experienced how important this kind of giving is at one of the saddest times in my life. After a person from my group of college friends was killed, the rest of us were shocked. We came to her funeral numb. We left in silence. We couldn’t believe it, and we didn’t know what to do.
A year later, on the anniversary of her death, another friend called and suggested we all meet at a restaurant to remember her. I thought this was a terrible idea. I could only imagine our sadness deepening, our anger intensifying, when we got together. But I went. We didn’t say much at first. We picked at our food, swirled our drinks. We shared updates about jobs, apartments, other friends who weren’t there. Finally, someone said, “Do you remember when…?” and began to tell a story about our friend. And we did remember. And that first story sparked another, and then another until we were all laughing and hugging and ordering more food and drinks and staying late into the night. The gathering to remember our friend became a tradition.
She was not with us, of course. But our shared love for her had brought us together. And because of that, not only would we always remember her, but we would come to love her, and each other, in new ways.
Jesus knows his mom and his dear friend are entering into deep sadness, real anger, and lots of questions that don’t have answers. He knows surviving this loss may be the hardest thing they’ve ever done. Like any grief, theirs will be complicated, and it will remain with them for a long time. They will hear his voice and look for him, forgetting that he’s not there. They will prepare his favorite dinner and be overwhelmed with sadness that he can’t enjoy it. They will see people he taught carry on his work, and wish he could see it, and they will see people he taught ignore his work, and wish they could make everyone respect who he had been. Memories of him will consume them some days. Others, they’ll be distracted, and feel guilty for only thinking of him once in a while. That’s why he gives them to each other. He knows they need each other. He knows that when one of them is sad or angry or stuck in questions, the other might say, “Do you remember when…?” and tell a story about him. And he knows that won’t make everything alright, but it will remind them that they share a love for him, and it might help them grow to love each other, too. Love can help us remember and honor what was, and it can reassure us that what we’ve cherished will, in some way, always be with us. And that love might be just what they need to see each other through this loss, and into a new day.
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS
• Who has cared for you when you’ve been sad or struggling? How have they done that?
• What is one way you’ve shown care for someone else?
• Has anyone been “given” to you, like how Jesus gives these two to each other? What does that mean for your relationship with that person?
• When Jesus asks his mother and his friend to look toward each other, he’s instructing them, “this is where your attention should go.”
If he were with us today, where do you think he might turn our attention?
© 2019 Illustrated Children’s Ministry, LLC.