From Deb Dunlevy: "Behold Your Son"
For this year's Holy Week, we've had Soma artists create meditations based on Jesus' "Seven Last Words" - seven statements the Bible records Jesus saying during his crucifixion.
God the Son was alone.
Suspended in suffering. Overpowered by pain. In a haze of blood and suffocation and thirst, his agony was only his. No one to ease it. No one to share it. No one to help him bear it.
Into an eternity of perfect, joyful unity with his Father and his powerful Spirit had come this hour of piercing isolation.
Cut off. Abandoned. Left by his own Father to die.
The one Person who could have stopped it turned away and left behind only the helpless.
She stood alone in the crowd.
Watching her heart, the son of her body, out of reach. Feeling his pain in her bones but powerless, as she had always been powerless, to do anything to stop it. Unable to bear it for him, unable to share it, unable even truly to understand.
He had lived inside her once, a pale imitation of the oneness he shared with his Father, but a oneness just the same. She had knit the web of his earliest memories. In years since, that connection had weakened, but now … now it was severed.
Cut off. Abandoned. Left by her own son to live a mother’s worst nightmare.
Then, somehow, impossibly, he looked down through the veil of his desolation and suffering, and he saw. His mother.
In that moment, when his own loss should have blinded him to anything else, his eyes fixed on her. In that moment, when any man would have thought only of his own pain, he proved that he was God: he thought of hers.
“Woman,” he said, “behold your son.”
He had come alone.
Standing among the women, cloaked in his shame, reliving the moment when he'd panicked and fled. And now, oh even now that he had steeled himself to return, he watched his master gasping for breath, crying in agony, and John shuddered with fear that he might share such a fate.
Weak. Cowardly. Faithless.
Still, he watched. This teacher who had taken him out of his boat and unlocked the mysteries of the ages. This prophet who had denied him the promise of powerful position but had poured out a new kind of love instead. This God whose glory had shone out on a mountaintop. Even in that moment, he had not seemed so far away as now.
Cut off by his own unworthiness. Abandoned by the rest of his friends. Left with only the weakest offering of devotion: bearing witness.
The disciple that he loved, his true friend. The best gift that he could give her.
“Behold your mother,” he told him.
The ultimate act of forgiveness. No matter that you ran away with the rest, I will entrust you with my most precious responsibility.
Now neither of them would be alone. They would have someone to lean on, to weep with, to care for. They would have someone who needed them to be strong, and so they would be stronger.
He was taking their sin and their suffering and their pain and their death, and now he took their isolation, too.
The Son of God died alone, so those he loved would not.
And the earth trembled.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5, NIV
Deb's piece is based on the Word "Woman, behold your son ... Behold your mother."
Image: Hendrick Ter Brugghen, "Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John"