“Woman, this is your son” John 19:25-27 – A meditation

With Mothering Sunday looming, here is my meditation written for last years Three Hours at the Cross, on the passage from John 19 that forms one of the options on Mothering Sunday readings, as well as being one of the Seven Last Words of Jesus.

If you wish to re-use this, either now or in Holy Week, please do, with suitable attribution and preferably a message via the comments box as to where you are. 

Meditation 1  ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing’
Meditation 2  ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’
(Further meditations in the sequence will be blogged as we draw closer to Holy Week.)

“Woman, this is your son” John 19:25-27

Meanwhile, standing near 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 beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

who gave Jesus his humanity in obedience to God,
stands in heart-breaking solidarity with her first-born,
his body,
wracked and broken by the torture of the cross.

There is a dignity about her presence,
a strength in her silence.

For this son,
Mary experienced
the strain of pre-marital disbelief;
arduous travel in the name of political statistics;
poverty and exile as the refugee of a violent, frightened dictator;
the fear and confusion of a parent who mis-places a child,
or discovers within them wisdom beyond their years;
the embarrassment of being ‘shushed’ as their offspring finds their own place in the world;
and now the terror of watching that child hijacked
by the unwillingness of leaders to face the truth and change –
the brutality of a regime that kills troublemakers.

And yet,
Mary still stands with honour,
his agony her own,
and receives a new child to care for,
a new journey of parental anguish,
the requirement to love someone
who will stand in the place of Jesus?

All who have loved and lost their own,
will be uncertain whether Jesus’ parting gift
was really the blessing popularly assigned to it.
Whilst bearing the pain of loss of one on whom all hope is built,
to be given the burden of another,
seems almost too much to bear.

And yet, is that not what Christ asks of all of us?
To stand, unbowed
at the foot of his cross,
and bear with him,
the weight of caring,
for all
for whom he died.



  1. Thank you for this Rachel. I shall use it on Mothering Sunday (attributed to you of course), in the Stourhead Benefice here in Suffolk.


  2. Rachel, thank you so much. I will use this this Sunday for Mothering Sunday at my curacy church of St Paul, Blackheath in Birmingham Diocese [not Blackheath London 😉 ]. This feels especially poignant as I lost my mother in November, so its my first Mothering Sunday without her.
    It feels especially God-sent as we are also inducting a new member into the Mothers Union, so when I explain who you are when I read it, I will include your Mothers’ Union background. Blessings Kathy Evans


    • Kathy,
      Thank you so much for this encouragement, you have no idea how helpful it is at a time when I’m finding ministry difficult. Go well and God bless you, your ministry and the new MU member.


    • Bless you for the encouragement – and I can reciprocate as it is your sermon from last year at Campden Hill that has indirectly inspired the starting point for my talk this year, and given me the bravery to speak briefly of feeding my mother her last meal. DG


      • Thank you so much for this. It means a great deal to know that sermon found fruitful soil to plant itself in – and what a privilege and difficulty it must have been to feed your mother her last meal. How many layers are there – nurture, and Eucharist, and food to the woman who fed you, and washing feet, and so much more … it feels like a very holy place.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bless you Moni, so pleased that your local community may give it new life this year, especially given the situation we all find ourselves in. Go well and God bless


  3. I will use it in a Good Friday meditation that we will be doing for Good Shepherd Lutheran in Claremont, California. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this meditation. I will use it in a small village chapel in Norfolk this evening. May God bless you as you have blessed others through your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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