At that time, there stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother, and His mother’s sister Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. 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. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own.
Verse 26. Though there were other holy women standing by the cross, he takes notice of none but his mother, teaching us, by this, what we owe to our parents. For although it is our duty to disown them, when they place obstacles in our way to salvation; yet when they do not thus impede us, we owe every thing to them, and must prefer them to all. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxiv. in Joan. — We learn also here, what should be our respect and confidence in this Virgin Mother, so highly honoured by her divine Son.
Verse 27. The disciple took her to his own home, or into his own are, not for his mother, by the Greek expression. See S. Chrys. and S. Aug. Wi.
24. These things therefore the soldiers did. 25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
THEOPHYLACT. While the soldiers were doing their cruel work, He was thinking anxiously of His mother: These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
AMBROSE. Mary the mother of our Lord stood before the cross of her Son. None of the Evangelists hath told me this except John. The others have related how that at our Lord’s Passion the earth quaked, the heaven was overspread with darkness, the sun fled, the thief was taken into paradise after confession. John hath told us, what the others have not, how that from the cross whereon He hung, He called to His mother. He thought it a greater thing to shew Him victorious over punishment, fulfilling the offices of piety to His mother, than giving the kingdom of heaven and eternal life to the thief. For if it was religious to give life to the thief, a much richer work of piety it is for a son to honour his mother with such affection. Behold, He saith, thy son; behold thy mother. Christ made His Testament from the cross, and divided the offices of piety between the Mother and the disciples. Our Lord made not only a public, but also a domestic Testamnet. And this His Testament John sealed, a witness worthy of such a Testator. A good testament it was, not of money, but of eternal life, which was not written with ink, but with the spirit of the living God: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Ps. 45:1) Mary, as became the mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled, and with pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son. For she looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world; and perhaps knowing that her Son’s death would bring this salvation, she who had been the habitation of the King, thought that by her death she might add to that universal gift.
But Jesus did not need any help for saving the world, as we read in the Psalm, I have been even as a man with no help, free among the dead. (Ps. 87) He received indeed the affection of a parent, but He did not seek another’s help. Imitate her, ye holy matrons, who, as towards her only most beloved Son, hath set you an example of such virtue: for ye have not sweeter sons, nor did the Virgin seek consolation in again becoming a mother.
JEROME. The Mary which in Mark and Matthew is called the mother of James and Joses, was the wife of Alpheus, and sister of Mary the mother of our Lord: which Mary John here designates of Cleophas, either from her father, or family, or for some other reason. She need not be thought a different person, because she is called in one place Mary the mother of James the less, and here Mary of Cleophas, for it is customary in Scripture to give different names to the same person.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) Observe how the weaker sex is the stronger; standing by the cross when the disciples fly.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. iii. 21) If Matthew and Mark had not mentioned by name Mary Magdalen, we should have thought that there were two parties, one of which stood far off, and the other near. But how must we account for the same Mary Magdalen and the other women standing afar off, as Matthew and Mark say, and being near the cross, as John says? By supposing that they were within such a distance as to be within sight of our Lord, and yet sufficiently far off to be out of the way of the crowd and Centurion, and soldiers who were immediately about Him. Or, we may suppose that after our Lord had commended His mother to the disciple, they retired to be out of the way of the crowd, and saw what took place afterwards at a distance: so that those Evangelists who do not mention them till after our Lord’s death, describe them as standing afar off. (Matthew and Mark.) That some women are mentioned by all alike, others not, makes no matter.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2) Though there were other women by, He makes no mention of any of them, but only of His mother, to shew us that we should specially honour our mothers. Our parents indeed, if they actually oppose the truth, are not even to be known: but otherwise we should pay them all attention, and honour them above all the world beside: When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son!
BEDE. By the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Evangelist means himself; not that the others were not loved, but he was loved more intimately on account of his estate of chastity; for a Virgin our Lord called him, and a Virgin he ever remained.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2.) Heavens! (Papæ) what honour does He pay to the disciple; who however conceals his name from modesty. For had he wished to boast, he would have added the reason why he was loved, for there must have been something great and wonderful to have caused that love. This is all He says to John; He does not console his grief, for this was a time for giving consolation. Yet was it no small one to be honoured with such a charge, to have the mother of our Lord, in her affliction, committed to his care by Himself on His departure: Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix. 1) This truly is that hour of the which Jesus, when about to change the water into wine, said, Mother, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. Then, about to act divinely, He repelled the mother of His humanity, of His infirmity, as if He knew her not: now, suffering humanly, He commends with human affection her of whom He was made man. Here is a moral lesson. The good Teacher shews us by His example how that pious sons should take care of their parents. The cross of the sufferer, is the chair of the Master.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2) The shameless doctrine of Marcion is refuted here. For if our Lord were not born according to the flesh, and had not a mother, why did He make such provision for her? Observe how imperturbable He is during His crucifixion, talking to the disciple of His mother, fulfilling prophecies, giving good hope to the thief; whereas before His crucifixion, He seemed in fear. The weakness of His nature was shewn there, the exceeding greatness of His power here. He teaches us too herein, not to turn back, because we may feel disturbed at the difficulties before us; for when we are once actually under the trial, all will be light and easy for us.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix. 2) He does this to provide as it were another son for His mother in his place; And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own. Unto his own what? Was not John one of those who said, Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee? (Mat. 19:27) He took her then to his own, i. e. not to his farm, for he had none, but to his care, for of this he was master.