Exodus 2.1-10 Colossians 3.12-17 John 19.25b – 27
Foreshadowing Herod’s massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem following the birth of Jesus, a brutal decree has been issued by Pharaoh requiring the destruction of all new born boys among the Hebrews, for fear that they might one day overturn his throne. Such is the paranoia which is often attendant upon regal power, suspicious of every threat, real or imaginary, conspiring and plotting to hold on to that power by any means. But as so often happens in God’s dealings with evil men, there is great irony in the manner of their downfall. No less a person than Pharaoh’s daughter rescues Moses from the river, and although she must be fully aware of her father’s decree, her pity for the crying baby overwhelms her caution, and it is her love for Moses which ultimately places him in such a position of influence that he is able to lead his people safely out of Egypt. The capacity for love which God has imprinted upon us opens our eyes to look beyond our own children, to care for others, and indeed for the other living beings which God has made to share this world with us.
Although we remain very far below the moral perfection and the fullness of love which characterise the God who made us to reflect something of himself, we can aspire to learn from the example of Jesus and to become more like him in all that we say and do, through the gift of grace which has been bestowed upon us. We can adopt the virtues listed by St Paul – compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience – and make them our own, as we seek to grow in holiness and maturity in the life we now live in the light of the ministry of Jesus among us. They are the diametric opposite of the violence by which men like Pharaoh or Herod conduct themselves, as they seek to cling on to the power which they so exalt. Christians are to learn the principle of forgiveness, so that nothing can stand in the way of a fellowship which is nothing less than the body of Christ. There is no place in such a body for the rivalry, anger and suspicion of the court. Those who belong to Christ should instead be filled with constant gratitude to God for so many gifts of love, building one another up in wisdom and faith, and constantly praising God for all that he provides.
As he suffers on the Cross, Jesus sees standing close by a little group consisting of his mother, her sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene. With his mother is John, the author of the gospel, who does not name himself but humbly speaks only of a disciple whom Jesus loved. Where are the other disciples, those who so recently professed their unshakeable loyalty to him, but have now sought to save themselves? As his presence there indicates, John can be relied upon, and it is to him that Jesus commits the care of his mother, who is soon to be left alone in this world. He is now to be a son to her, and John welcomes the widowed and bereaved Mary into his own household. As with Pharaoh’s daughter in her rescue of Moses, love sees far beyond the immediate bonds of family, and Mary finds the home which she needs with John for the years which are to come, when she will play her part as a member of the Church in Jerusalem, and hand on to the disciples of Jesus her precious knowledge of his early life on earth.
Rev Stephen Trott