Third Word

John 19:25-27
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.


It seems as though each jagged breath drawn into her lungs contains a knife’s edge for her heart. Mary stands with three other women and one man, as close as she dares to the ragged figure of her son. Her breaths echo his as he struggles to fill his lungs with air. Her eyes are fixed on his form, once so strong and capable, now battered and broken beyond recognition.

She wants to wrap him with her robe like she used to do when he was an infant – his body looks exposed and vulnerable, splayed out for an easy target. Her every instinct is screaming to cover him, shield him, care for him, but her feet are frozen to the chalky gravel and she remains motionless. Her eyes drift to his feet, pierced through with a heavy spike – and she remembers the soft translucence of those same feet that she had rubbed and kissed when he was yet a baby. She had been holding one on them in her hand that day in the temple court – that day when Simeon had spoken those haunting words to her: “A sword will pierce your soul too.” Mary feels it now, her grief like a sharp sword in her chest, like the spike now piercing through the beautiful feet of her son.

Looking back up at his face, she sees that he is looking at her now, his eyes pouring forth light as they always have – now the one recognizable thing in his ruined face. He is looking at her and at the disciple standing next to her, and he says, “Dear woman…” Dear woman, just like he had said at that wedding in Cana, a lifetime ago… “Dear woman, here is your son.” Looking at the disciple next to her, Jesus says, “Here is your mother.”

Mary’s eyes well up as she realizes what is happening. Her son – her beautiful son – is caring for her in his last hour. But that phrase echoes in her mind – last hour. Is this really the end? Tears pouring down her face, her mind replays scene after scene of her relationship with her special son. Now, on this wind-whipped hill, she stands with her newly appointed son to witness the last breath of the one she had always known was more than her own child.

Third Word

Theresa Moss

West Chester, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

From a series of narratives based on the traditional Seven Sayings of Christ from the Cross

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