“Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.”
Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”
We do not choose the family we are born into. We do not choose the family that raises us. But once we are grown, we do have the ability to choose those with whom we surround ourselves, and to determine the nature of our relationship with them. We have the ability to define or re-define who we call family.
The gospel of John tells us that, even in the midst of his sufferring, Jesus’ concern was for his mother and who would care for her after he was gone. He appoints his beloved disciple to this task, defining their connection as mother and son. This decree is about responsibility, certainly, but it is also about a deeper commitment of caring. To take care of, but also to care for, one another. And, in this case, to see each other through their grief at his loss.
Our relationships with the people in our lives are defined by how we care for one another. From a “big picture” perspective, if I think of my fellow human beings as my brothers and sisters, my heart is always open to someone in need – whether their need be to share in the joy of celebration or shoulder the burden of struggle and pain. I am reminded that we are all family, with a responsibility to each other. I am reminded that we’re all in this life-thing together.