When Jesus was crucified the gospels share the use of the phase that the disciples who were brave enough to be there ‘stood at a distance’. Perhaps they stood at a distance out horror at what they were witnessing, distance made it more bearable. Perhaps they stood at a distance out of fear of identifying themselves with Jesus, they didn’t want to risk being picked out, arrested, and possibly sharing the same fate as Jesus. Perhaps they stood at a distance because the Roman soldiers pushed them back, forcibly separating them from Jesus. For whatever reason, they stood at a distance, and Jesus suffered alone, isolated. The words speak powerfully into our present separated human condition.
But in John’s gospel there is an opposite glimmer of community restoration. Jesus looks out at his disciples from the cross. He calls to Mary his mother, and to John. He says: “Woman, here is your son.” And he says: “Here is your mother.” And it continues: ‘From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ Jesus loves his mother, and in his ultimate distress Jesus tenderly puts her into the care of another. Jesus leads us by his example. Jesus models for us how to create communities of care, and households of love and commitment.
For most of us, many of our loving human relationships are separated by coronavirus separation restrictions. If we love people, then we keep apart from them. But for a few of us, we are discovering deeper and closer connections of love and commitment within our households of care. There are wonderful pictures of residents and carers in Nursing Homes on the TV, they know that they are in it together, they have become committed to one another. I also read the heart-warming stories of zoo keepers moving into on-site accommodation so that they can spend the isolation period close to the animals in their care.
Yours in Christ. May God bless you and keep you safe.