Friday, April 6, 2012

At the Foot of the Cross: Our Fleshly Connection

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
- John 19:25-27

"The Crucifixion" by El Greco
At the foot of the cross, Jesus wasn’t alone.

Yes, his dudes and bros, his lieutenants and committeemen, even the rock on whom Jesus would build his church, they all left Jesus. I guess they all figured that the movement couldn’t continue if they’re all dead or in prison. That could be good sense for movement building.

Except we know that not all of Jesus’ followers abandoned him. The people that the text identifies were some of Jesus’ most devoted disciples, the ones who accompanied Jesus even to the foot of the cross.

And Jesus recognized them.

As an organizer, I think what Jesus says to the last folks still with him is amazing. These words make my eyes widen, my mouth hang open, and keeps me in awed silence. For all the militancy and revolution that I like to find in the teachings of Jesus, these last instructions are anything but an action plan.

This isn’t a hyper-masculine climax where the epic hero shouts “FREEEEDOM!” in a voice that thunders through the hills and awakes the clans to bloody glory.

This is a much more nurturing, compassionate interaction. Like a mother to a child. Like a lover to a beloved. It is an intimate whisper, a whisper that draws one’s partner close.

Jesus, in his last teaching to his disciples who accompanied him to the very end, creates a space for life-giving relationship. I hear him invoking the cry of the ancient adam, the “groundling” which God created from the earth, “This at last is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,” the isha, my companion, my accompanier.

At the foot of the cross Jesus reminds us, even in the midst of torture, how we should see one another. A son. A mother. A sister. A brother. Born of the flesh wrought by God the Creator, whom we are to love above all else.

At the foot of the cross Jesus reminds us, even in the midst of great injustice, how we should care for one another, sustain one another, love one another.

At the foot of the cross we remember, even in the midst of the blood of Christ which is the blood of our Mother-Father God, we are connected by the labor pains of the second birth.

Let us respond to this final, intimate whisper as did the disciple whom Jesus loved. Let us take one another into our homes and into our lives and into our hearts.


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