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Grief by Michael O'Donnell

Listen to the Audio version of Station 12

Jesus on the cross, his mother and his disciple

John 19:25-27


But standing by 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 nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Text Reflection:


When Jesus was a newborn, the prophet Simeon blessed him and told his mother Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul. Now, three decades later, Mary stands before her son hanging upon a cross.


Surrounding Mary are the other women who followed Jesus. But where are the disciples? Except for John who concealed his own name, they are all missing in the crucifixion accounts. Yet, these women are revealed by all four gospel writers and named by three. They are the midwives of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. The witnesses of a new covenant cut by his broken body and shed blood. The attendants of the first Eucharist.


But what was it like for Mary to stand there? Did she realize the extent of what was happening? In his beautiful Hymn of Mary, Ephrem the 4th century liturgist sings:


“The Son of the Most High came and dwelt in me and I became his mother. Just as I gave birth to Him, a further birth too He gave to me, a second birth. He put on His Mother’s robe, a body, while I put on His of glory.”


The womb that contained the uncontainable God. The incarnate word given birth through her very own flesh and blood, now offering her a second birth through his own flesh and blood. And so, every Eucharist, we return to the cross to stand among these women. And at their head, Mary. The mother of Jesus.


And as the sword pierced her son’s side, it pierced her own soul. She was asked to repeat the Yes and Amen that she uttered three decades before. May it be done unto me as you have said. I am your servant.

Art reflection

Grief by Michael O'Donnell


So many images in this scene were becoming too familiar. I couldn't simply paint Jesus on the cross with Mary and John at His feet. I was looking for something to invoke the weight of the moment when Jesus said goodbye to his mother.

I couldn't.

Words seemed to be more effective than images here. So that's what I captured.

  • How does this image reveal to you the heartbeat of Jesus in the final moments of his life.

  • What does this image stir in you?

  • What does this image reveal to you about the passion of Jesus?



Despite Mary’s grief and suffering, she was able to turn to John and say, My son.


In your own suffering, are you able to see Jesus in others? To be Jesus to the vulnerable? How might Jesus be asking you to care for others?



What was it like for Mary to stand before her son hanging on the cross? What dreams, hopes, expectations did she have for her son?

What dreams, hopes and expectations does Mary’s "Yes" and "Amen" invite you to lay down before the cross?



Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

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