So far as we know, Jesus’ brothers and sisters were not present at the crucifixion. With one exception, his disciples were no-shows. The people whose sight Jesus had restored, whose bodies he had healed, they weren’t present. But when Jesus looked down from the cross, through a haze of pain, he saw that his mother was there. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother…” (John 19:25 KJV)
Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If I were hanged on the highest hill, mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine, I know whose love would follow me still, mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine.” In his hour of greatest need, hung high on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth, as though neither one wanted him, Jesus looked at the gaggle of spectators assembled below, and there was his mother.
When you are going through a hard time, it means a lot when friends and loved ones come to your side. They don’t solve your problems. They don’t take away your pain. But they’re there. They show up. They stand by you.
Maybe I make too much of this, but I think it is noteworthy that, so far as we know, Mary never speaks. Throughout the whole ordeal, as she stands there, watching what no mother should have to watch, she never says a word.
How often we pull back from people who are getting crucified by some crisis — sickness, the death of a loved one, personal relationships coming unraveled — because we don’t know what to say. But Mary teaches us that you don’t have to say anything. It’s your presence that counts. People seldom remember the words you spoke when you visited at the funeral home, but they never forget that you came.
Mary stands by her son in his hour of need. Her presence doesn’t take away his pain. It doesn’t remove his suffering. It doesn’t relieve his burden. But she is there for him. Don’t pull back from people in need because you don’t know what to say. Just by showing up you say that you care. There is a lot of wisdom in the old saying: “Don’t just do something, stand there.”
A version of this blog post first appeared on Words of Hope and is reprinted with permission.