Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalen. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, Woman, this is your son. Then to the disciple he said, This is your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27
A woman (Eve) figures prominently in the Book of Genesis story of our human fall. And in John's Gospel, as Jesus begins his work of reclamation for God, another woman plays prominently, as Mary is present at Jesus' first miracle at Cana. And here is Mary again, standing beneath the foot of the cross with the one disciple who didn't run away.
Following Jesus' instruction from the cross, Mary and the disciple take each other in as family. That's how it is with the followers of Jesus - to think of each other as family. Blood is thicker than water, the saying goes, as if blood family is the tightest and highest bond. Not so! Rather, baptism-water is the binder between us.
In the 1990's the African nation of Rwanda lost over 800,000 people to civil war and genocide. Often the weapon of choice was a machete, leaving scores more wounded and disabled. Many thousands wandered as refugees, while still thousands more died of cholera and dysentery in the country's destabilization.
At the end of the war a new monastery of nuns was begun on a hillside that, like the rest of the landscape, was defoliated, scorched and robbed of life. The founding sisters were from Tutsi and Hutu tribes - the principle enemies of each other in the deadly conflict.
Each sister knew the death of relatives at the hands of the other tribe. Along with friends, they greened the hillside, making the convent a place of reconciliation and hope, reaching out as new family to the orphaned, the elderly, the disoriented and abandoned. Woman, this is your son; son, this is your mother.