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Molly CahillMay 29, 2023
Timelapse photo of people crossing a busy streetPhoto by Mauro Mora, courtesy of Unsplash.

A Reflection for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Find today’s readings here.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved,
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:26-17)

For whom am I responsible?

Right off the top of my head, I can identify a small circle of family and friends for whom I know I am responsible, people I wake up in the morning wondering about and ready to check in on. My relationships with them are life-sustaining, and thinking about their day-to-day business happens naturally, even involuntarily. I know that their well-being is essential to my own; I can feel it.

But what about the billions of other people in the world, the ones I haven’t met and never will, or even the acquaintances I might know but not have the kind of deep attachment to that I do to the closest people in my life?

In particular, what about the people who are lonely, or in a time of transition or loss, or just largely responsible for looking after themselves without much help or support? Today’s Gospel offers some guidance.

In an increasingly atomized and isolated world, I’d rather live a crowded life, filled with the people Jesus loves—from the Blessed Mother to the people on my block.

The reading for today from John depicts one of Christianity’s most recognizable scenes: the crucifixion. At the foot of the cross as Jesus nears death are his mother and the Apostle John. The Gospel tells us that Jesus gives them a clear message about their connection and how they are to relate to each other, first telling Mary, “Woman, behold, your son,” and then telling John, “Behold, your mother.” From then on, Mary goes to live with John in his home, and we can assume that he cares for her for the rest of her earthly life.

It’s heartwarming to imagine the beginning stages of awkwardness that might have occurred in Mary and John’s first days as “roommates.” The newness of sharing a home must have taken some time to wear off. But there’s a beauty to that, and to the willingness John had to take on someone Jesus loved as his own.

Our own callings might not involve taking our friend’s grieving mother into our home (let alone knowing the Blessed Mother so personally), but the foundational principle stands: We are responsible for each other. Beyond biological ties or pre-existing relationships, the well-being of our fellow human beings is in our hands. And while that’s a responsibility, it’s also a gift: opening our lives to more connections with unrepeatable people, loved by God exactly as they are.

As the poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, “we are each other’s harvest: / we are each other’s business: / we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

In an increasingly atomized and isolated world, I’d rather live a crowded life, filled with the people Jesus loves—from the Blessed Mother to the people on my block.

Behold, your brothers and sisters. Behold, your neighbors. Behold, your friends.

More: Scripture

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