The two who stood witness: Mary and John

By Jim Sedlak

Today we pause to remember a day in history when the Lord God, Jesus Christ, in humble obedience to His Father, suffered and died for the creatures He created. Never before, and not since, has the world witnessed anything that compares to this event.

Jesus, the Son of God the Father, traveled and taught for three years. He worked miracles—healed the sick, drove out demons, and raised people from the dead. He taught about love and peace, about humility and patience, and about obedience and suffering. Just days before His brutal death, He was welcomed jubilantly into Jerusalem.

Then the prophesies began to unfold. At His last meal, less than 24 hours before his death, He foretold of the betrayal that would soon happen. He went aside to pray, asking His Father to let this cup pass, but immediately signaled His obedience by telling His Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” He endured the betrayal of one from His inner circle of friends. The person He had picked to be the rock upon which He would build His Church denied Him more than once. And as He was taken into custody and suffered through the mockery of a trial, nine of the 10 remaining members quietly slipped away and deserted Him. 

When Jesus arrived at the place of His death, only His Apostle John, His mother Mary, and a couple of dedicated holy women remained near the cross to witness the last moments of His life on earth.

John would later write a gospel in which he gave a firsthand account of what transpired in those final minutes of Jesus’ life. Reliving the gambling for Jesus’ garments, the blasphemies of the crowd and the soldiers, and the pain suffered by Jesus, John reports: “When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27).

As has been taught through the ages by the saints, and confirmed by the Church, in saying these words, Jesus gave Mary to be a mother to all of us. And, through John, Jesus let us know that He expects us to honor our mother and to draw others to her.

Good Friday is an incredibly sad day in the Church’s annual calendar, for it is the day that Our Lord and Savior was brutalized and killed. Yet, it is also a day of hope, for we understand that Jesus had to die in order to conquer death. We know, as Jesus knew, that He had to die so that the will of the Father would be carried out and the human race saved.

But the Holy Trinity had another gift for us on that day. That gift is Mary.

Let us remember Mary and her special relationship with the Holy Trinity. 

Mary is the daughter of God the Father, and was picked specifically by the Father to carry Jesus in her womb. 

Mary is the mother of God the Son, and the person who gave birth to the Savior and took care of Him as He grew into manhood. 

Mary is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit. As the angel told Mary on the day of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit would come over her and she would conceive a son.

Then, on that first Good Friday, Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother. 

A mother’s role is to nurture and lead her children to do what is right. The saints and the Church teach us that Mary has one main role as our mother—to lead us to Jesus. Our Lord told us that no one can go to the Father except through Jesus. Mary can help us get to Jesus—if we let her.

As we begin the Easter weekend, let us think seriously about the two faithful individuals who emerged from all that happened on Good Friday. Think of John—the only Apostle to remain faithful to Jesus and who was a personal witness at the foot of the cross. We all should be as faithful in following Our Lord. In good times and in bad, Jesus is our Savior and we must stand by His side forever.

Then, think about Mary, the mother of God and our mother. If you find yourself running into trouble as you seek to reach your heavenly reward, turn to Mary. Like any mother, she is always there to help—if only you ask. Let her lead you to Jesus and you will not regret it—ever.

Jim Sedlak is vice president of American Life League.