In this sermon, find out how the love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards His mother, the Virgin Mary, is a representation of His love for the Church and all of mankind.
Behold Your Mother
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Gospel: John 19. 25-27 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.19:26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, Woman, behold your son!
19:27 Then He said to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
Truly, it is a marvelous view [of] Jesus Christ, who was rejected from the people, from the rulers, from the leaders of the Jewish church stretching His hands to embrace the people of the world.
When I look at St Mary and St John and what the Lord Jesus Christ said to them, truly the gates of hope are open to all of us. While just a couple of people were interested in Him during crucifixion, He was interested about everyone in the world. When He was taking care of His mother, St Mary, it was a symbol of how He takes care of the whole church. St Mary was a symbol of the church.
We can say with St Augustine, she was the first member of the church and what she had received, the whole church received in the Lord Jesus Christ. When I say became the Mother of God through the work of the Holy Spirit and she had Jesus Christ in her womb. The Logos was incarnated and became her son. The Lord Jesus Christ opened the gate for every person to accept the Lord in his heart, in his spirit, in his mind through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Truly she is unique, and she is above cherubim and the seraphim and all the heavenly hosts. But at the same time, as I look at St Mary, I see the church as a whole – deprived of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the heavenly hosts are waiting for the last day when the Bride will be on the clouds with her Groom and share His glory. She is now beautified by the Holy Spirit.
Through the work of St Mary every person who is in fellowship with Jesus Christ is waiting for this day in which he will share in the glory which the Lord has prepared for him.
In St Mary I see the whole church, and at the same time I see myself in her. It is the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father chose her, the Son was incarnate from her and the Holy Spirit prepared and sanctified her, and by Him the incarnation has been fulfilled.
We should not be little ourselves. We need to look towards the glory of God which He has prepared for us.
When I look at Jesus Christ on the cross, I need to also see all of mankind. According to many psychology scholars, there are many problems among the young people. The first is the problem of loneliness and the second is the feeling of inferiority. Every person suffers from these feelings from time to time. Sometimes many friends surround me, many family members are interested in me, or many people share my joy and/or my grief but within myself I don’t think they really share my feelings from their hearts. It is the feeling of loneliness that many suffer from even while at parties and surrounded by many persons.
When we look at Jesus Christ on the cross we ask Him, “Do you have the same feeling that you are alone?” While He was praying in Gethsemane on behalf of all mankind and as our representative, He said to His disciple, “You left me, but I am not alone because the Father is with Me.” While He was on the cross we see Him as if He was forsaken by the Father and by man. But in fact, nothing can separate Him from His Father – He is of One Essence with Him and He is equal with Him in His essence. Nothing can separate Him from His own Holy Spirit because it is His own Spirit.
Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross, gives me the practical solution to loneliness. I can even say that the word crucified means “I am not alone.” I am a member of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ; nothing can separate me from the Lord, the Head of the Church. Nothing can separate me from the Father; nothing can prevent the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am supported in Him. I am not alone. In fact, I am a member of the church. I am a member in the Body of Jesus Christ. I am the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I have a special place in the bosom of the Father; therefore, I never suffer from the feeling of loneliness.
Never also suffer from the feeling of inferiority. I am crucified with my Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps even persecuted by my close friends but yet I never see myself as inferior to others. I am truly glorified in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am waiting for my special place in the bosom of the Father.
The Cross gives me the solutions to all my problems.
What about St Mary’s feelings when she looked up at the cross at her only son crucified? Those whom He loved and sacrificed Himself for were against Him. Truly, as it was said of her, there was a sword in her heart and she was wounded. [Yet] we say in the Canonical Hours: she was rejoicing for all of mankind. Surely she discovered that although He was suffering from the outside, He was carrying the sins of the whole world. He presented Himself as the Divine Sacrifice on behalf of the whole world. He destroyed death, opened the gates of Hades and carried all those who died in hope to Paradise.
From the outside, St Mary was grieving but internally she was full of joy. She truly accepted the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ in her womb. She participated in His love for all of mankind. When Christ said, “Behold your son” I believe that she accepted him as her son and she loved him. I can say with St Augustine that she loved him as she loved Christ. From this point St Mary became the mother of all mankind. She accepted St John from the command or the promise of her son, “Behold your son” she became the mother of the whole world. All mankind are joined and she accepted all as her children. It was a glory for St Mary to accept and become a mother to all the believers in Jesus Christ.
If we return to Eve, we will discover how Eve lost the meaning of her name “Mother of all the Living” in Genesis 3.12. For by her disobedience to God she obtained only death for her children instead of life; she became the mother of the dead. Her daughter St Mary took her place when she was near her Son. She took the place of the first Eve; we can say St Mary became the 2nd Eve by her faith and obedience to her Son. And in her humility she became – through the Holy Spirit – the Mother of Life. She offered to Adam’s children the Tree of Life to eat from and therefore to live forever. Now we are St Mary’s children and she accepted us into her spiritual bosom. She nursed us by the Divine Milk: The Lord Jesus Christ himself: the crucified and risen One who ascended to heaven. She asks us to eat and drink the heavenly bread – the Lord himself. Truly she became the new Eve, the woman who is my helpmate, who gives me to eat from the Tree of Life [which is] the Cross of her Son.
Many Fathers of the Church compare Eve with St Mary, the second Eve.
According to St Ireaneus, St Mary has a distinct function in God’s plan for our salvation. She offered her free consent to God: her obedience issued through her faith. She accepted to follow the Lord Jesus Christ until the last moment of His crucifixion. St Ireaneus calls St Mary our advocate because she prays for us. She can’t save us, only the Lord Jesus Christ saves us, but through love St Mary and all the saints and the whole church have to pray for the salvation of mankind.
We want all of us to be the second Eve. We want the whole church to be like St Mary. Those who departed from this world and those who are still living all pray for the salvation of the whole world. All of us accept John as our child. We look towards the sinners, the non-believers as our children we can’t be full of joy unless we see the whole world accepting Jesus Christ.
It is a promise from the Lord Jesus Christ to His mother: Behold Your Son. It is a gift to her that she became mother of all the living ones. She opened the gate for us also. May we follow You Lord Jesus Christ even to Your cross and accept from Your mouth this promise that our hearts may be very wide and every human being may find a special place in my heart, I hope that every person shares with me the sweetness of the crucifixion with the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the same time He looked at the Disciple and said, “Behold Your Mother.” That is a divine gift that we receive St Mary also as our mother. When He said that it was as if he kept him in the place of Jesus. I can’t imagine the joy in St John’s heart when he heard of accepting St Mary as his mother. It means may you accept my place! How great is Your love my Lord Jesus Christ: You want all of us to be children of St Mary. At the same time you want all of us to be members of Your own body which You received from St Mary. I am now, through Your promise, proud of this gift.
Now I can’t say I am a sinner, I am very weak, I don’t know where I am going, I am afraid of the Last Day. Through the grace of God I will be truly glorified – sharing Your glory because You accepted me into Your grace.
My Lord Jesus Christ, what can I say about this divine gift, that You accepted me to take Your place? For my sake You became man so that I may be proud that you created me. For my sake You have a body like my body; I never despise my body. You glorified my soul, my mind, my body, my senses, my emotions, my work, my life here in this world. I think I can’t express this gift that You granted me through Your incarnation, Your birth from a woman. As St Paul said, “Until you ascended to heaven you want me to follow You” all these steps and to enjoy the companionship with You and to receive from You all these gifts.
When I see You in the Jordan River, I say, blessed are those who accepted to be with You in the Font of Baptism (the new Jordan River), who accept the work of Your Holy Spirit through baptism. Who receive the Holy Spirit through Myroon/Chrismation, to be truly adopted to the Father. You are the only-begotten Son of Your Father. And through Your grace You allowed us to be adopted to the Father and become children of God. How great is the work of the Holy Spirit who granted us, through baptism and chrismation, this great gift.
You work so that You may sanctify our work. You served man so that everyone deserves to serve you and witness Your love. Thank You our Lord Jesus Christ. You were persecuted so that we may be blessed when we are persecuted even by those whom we love.
My beloved brethren truly it is hard for me to express the gifts of God to us when we hear the words of the lord Jesus Christ when He was crucified, “Behold your mother.” Thank you my Lord for granting me St Mary to be my mother. Thank You my Lord for You granted me the heavenly church to be the new Eve, my mother. Thank You my Lord Jesus Christ for accepting me to be with You as a member of Your body.
Now My Lord Jesus Chris, I hope today from all my heart to grant me a kind of motherhood, as You granted St Mary to be the mother of John, the mother of mankind. You want the priests, the bishops to be fathers full of love for the whole world. As your minister, your servant, St John Chrysostom always used to say to the priests, “you are the fathers of the whole world.” At the same time, we ask you widen the heart of every layman, to feel that their hearts are open to every person, even to the enemies if they are enemies. I can’t feel that there’s an enemy from mankind towards me. Grant me more and more love. Grant me to live as You lived when you became man. Grant me not to be interested in only my salvation but to be interested in the salvation of every human being, even when I am crucified, I hope I am crucified with You so that I will truly be interested in those who surround me.
Thank You my Lord Jesus Christ for all Your gifts. Glory be to God forever, Amen.