When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, 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 into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus has taken the wine, he said “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
John 19: 26-30
I’ve always been told that this is the moment Christ gave us Mary to be our mother as the church, and so I always loved these last words of Christ. Last year I wrote about this in my detail, but I saw these words echoed in a beautiful way last winter when my father-in-law was preparing for heaven after a heroic battle with cancer. When he gathered the family to explain that the cancer was back and that this time he was not going to pursue full treatment, his only concern was for his wife. “Take care of mom,” he told us.
In some ways, when parents drop their children off at school in the morning, they are giving us this same sort of message. For the next seven hours, behold your son, behold your daughter. From the very first hours of the school year, we take those students into our classrooms, and into our hearts. We feed them emotionally, spiritually, mentally, creatively, and oftentimes even physically. In a concrete way, we act as Christ for our students.
One of the hardest things in my teaching career, especially in the last few years, is the fact that we are expected as teachers to do all those things, and often given little to no support from the parents who entrust their children to us. While I don’t want to bash parents, it can be hard to care for children when they are told over and over that the consequences of their actions are not their responsibility or that the authority of the teacher doesn’t command respect. Our job doesn’t change though, so we keep trying our best to hold students accountable and continue to act as Christ in the best way we can.
My prayer today is for teachers, parents and students to all work together in the important job of education. I pray for teachers who feel like they are at odds with the families of their students, and for increased understanding and better communication in difficult situations. I pray that you would feel affirmed in your role as a teacher, student, or parent and empowered to take others into your heart with compassion.
Questions for reflection:
What are some ways I have been like the beloved apostle, taking my students into my classroom and my life?
How have I been like Mary, mentored and cared for by someone who loves me?
Is God calling me to take another teacher, coworker, friend into my life in some deeper way?