Love at the Foot of the Cross

I’ve often heard it said that all of Jesus’ friends abandoned him on that Good Friday, his time of greatest need. But it needs to be said that not all of his friends disappeared into the darkness of the moment. A few were there, at the foot of the cross. They were the women, the mothers. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John.

I’ve been thinking of them today, rooted at his feet, strong as tree trunks, refusing to let him weather the storm alone.

Perhaps it is because they were women that they could be there while the others couldn’t – perhaps they weren’t in as much danger of sharing his fate as the male disciples. Perhaps. But I think they were there because even the very real danger of death couldn’t keep them from Jesus’ side. Isn’t that what a mother’s love does? Isn’t that what women have done for thousands of years? When suffering strikes, a mother wants to gather the afflicted under her protective wing, and when she cannot she holds the afflicted in her heart and in her eyes, not letting them flit out of sight and out of mind.

I imagine it was a great comfort to Jesus to see those fierce women, those unyielding mothers, amidst the contorted faces in the hostile crowd. For when Jesus writhed in agony, he knew they were praying for his strength, reaching out to touch his feet and so pass unto him all the strength they possessed. When Jesus cried out in sorrow, they held in their tears and wails, murmuring kind words, loving words, true words of hope and assurance and affection. When Jesus’ slid into despair and dared to feel alone and forsaken, they were pillars of another testament – proclaiming with their steady gaze that love will never leave him to face life – or death – alone.

The love he gave was the love they returned, the love that broke open the tombs, the love that – in the end – defeated death.

As I gaze at the cross this Good Friday, I am strengthened by the steady presence of the women, the mothers. They who had practiced their whole lives to shoulder the pain of their children, to love them till the end. They, who bravely witnessed Jesus’ agony. They, who refused to turn away, to hide their faces, to let Jesus endure the tragedy of life alone. They, who stand as testaments that when love blesses the space between breath and death, miracles will follow.

May I not look away today. May I stand steadily at his feet. May I trust that love will see him through even this trial, even through this death, and into a new life that his love will invite me to share.

The crucifixion of Christ; beneath the cross are positioned the four Maries, a soldier and a horse. Colored lithograph by F.S. Hanfstaengl after P. Caliari, il Veronese. Dated between 1830-1839. Public domain.

3 thoughts on “Love at the Foot of the Cross

  1. Having lost an adult son at 42, perhaps I can relate to this in ways some may not be able to. I love Jesus because HE first loved me, gave me two sons whom I adore(d) and promised eternal life. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article. HE LIVES!

    Liked by 1 person

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