I can’t believe it.
At a time like that, part of me was worrying about his tunic.
I’d made it for him, you see….poured my love into every single stitch. When he was away from home, out on the road, I liked to think that he carried a bit of Nazareth, a bit of our family life with him wherever he went….That tunic was a sign of all the love and care I longed to lavish on him, even when he resisted I think, on the whole, I was glad that the soldiers decided to leave it intact. I know that means that one of them will go home wearing it…but that’s somehow better than seeing it torn into pieces, even as my son’s flesh is being torn.
And my heart.
He’s just spoken…it was like a flashback.
“Woman, here is your son!”
It’s what my Joseph said to me, in that dingy little shed behind the inn in Bethlehem, as he handed me the bloody, birth stained bundle…”It’s a fine boy, just as you said….”
And at that moment, all my relationships changed forever. That precious armful was immediately the most important person in my life, all the world to me.
I’d have died to protect him. It’s true, all the things you read about the lionness defending her young…..I was like that….Herod’s soldiers would have had to deal with me, before they could lay hands on my baby son, my little Jesus.
I remember how he used to reach up with his tiny arms from the cradle…asking me to lift him, to hold him to myself, to show my love with caress and cuddle.
Now he seems to be reaching out for love from the whole world…but the world is a cruel loveless place. Instead of running into his open arms, the people of Jerusalem have nailed him in a caricature of an embrace on that cross.
Simeon knew what he was talking about all those years ago. My heart is truly pierced…as surely as his side, by that terrible Roman spear.
I thought he must mean that it would be hard having a son who was so much greater than his mother…a son who outgrew his parents before he was 12. The things he used to say…I never knew whether to box his ears or fall at his feet.
That day when he went back to the Temple, because he’d not had long enough…the day when he hurt us so badly
“I must get on with my father’s business!”
Oh, how could he….Joseph was a wonderful father. Provided for us, even though he knew that Jesus wasn’t his own son…Loved me through thick and thin… Gave Jesus time, attention,- everything a boy could need from his father. I used to sneak in to the workshop and watch them, both intent on their creations, the 2 I loved most, perfectly at ease with each other in a silence of deep mutual understanding.
I hoped that maybe all that business with the angel could be forgotten, as Jesus grew up
Then Jesus threw it all back in his face, that day…Only 12, to be so unkind.
Though I don’t think he meant it harshly. Not really.
Jesus doesn’t have an unkind bone in his body…It was as if he was telling a truth that mattered even more than his affection for us, his parents.
That’s what I told the others, that day when he wouldn’t see us….Years later, that was. And I can’t pretend it didn’t hurt to be rejected like that. We’d gone a long way to see him…It’s not easy when your son becomes somehow public property. He seemed to have time for anyone who came along, if they asked him for help.
Yes, I was proud of his growing reputation as a teacher and a healer…but I wanted some of his time myself. Mothers are entitled, aren’t they. Work life balance?? He could have done with a bit of that….but he seemed to be driven by a calling that was beyond anything I could fathom. He understood what the angel had been getting at, I’m sure of that now.
And somehow, what’s happening today is part of it…..
A sword will pierce my heart….oh yes….I can feel it, sure enough.
He could have got out of it, I know he could.
I was so frustrated when he wouldn’t do anything to make the situation better. He was clever with words…clever with deeds too. He seemed to have power over demons, diseases, even, if you believe the rumours, he has power over death. Lazarus certainly looks well enough, if you meet him in the street.
So…my clever, clever son…does nothing.
I was first frustrated, then appalled. To see him being beaten through the streets of Jerusalem, then stripped of his clothes and nailed to that cross.
And I couldn’t do a thing. A sword in my heart.
He didn’t even want me to be there. When he told John to be my son, I knew he wanted him to take me away…to protect me from seeing what would come next.
I was grateful to him for that…the sort of kindness I’ve always known was part of my Jesus.
But I’m not moving.
My place is here.
How could I walk away from my son.
Now, as at the beginning, he is all the world to me. I don’t care who else is here. There will be a time to mother John later.
For now, I’m opening my arms to cradle the body of my child once again.
“Woman, here is your son”
Keep me faithful to you
through whatever life brings.
Help me to accept with humility
My place in your plans
And to wait with open arms and heart
To receive you, however you come to me.