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Sebastian GomesSeptember 15, 2023
Pope Francis greets the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 15, 2023, for his midday recitation of the Angelus. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

A Reflection for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

You can 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." (Jn 19:26-27)

With his dying breath, Jesus pleads for reconciliation and inclusion among his followers. He brings his closest blood relative and his closest disciple together. “And from that hour, the disciple took [Mary] into his home.”

It’s one of those Gospel passages that presupposes a serious conflict: why would Jesus need to facilitate such a reconciliation unless there was some debate in the early community about the constitution of Jesus’ true “family”? In Jesus’ absence, who could speak authoritatively in his name and carry on his mission? Did his memory and legacy automatically pass through blood relation, or could anyone be a true disciple irrespective of familial ties? For Jesus, the answer is clearly both.

At this moment in our church’s history, we are once again grappling with basic questions of communion, mission and participation—the themes of the Synod on Synodality.

Reflecting on this scene 2,000 years later can give it a feeling of triviality or even pettiness. But for John the Evangelist, it is of the utmost importance, perhaps because John witnessed debates about authority and inclusion within his own community. And what was true back then remains true today: the impulse of Christianity is one of reconciliation and inclusion.

At this moment in our church’s history, we are once again grappling with basic questions of communion, mission and participation—the themes of the Synod on Synodality. As the Synod unfolds, there will be debates and infighting among some members. But at the end of the day, fidelity to the Gospel tradition may demand that we hear again Jesus’ plea from the cross for reconciliation and inclusion.

More: Scripture

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