John 19:26-27 could be understood simply as Jesus insuring that his mother was properly cared for after his death and without any particular spiritual significance. This would be especially important if, as Catholic understand, Mary was a widow without any other children.
I think the very fact that it’s in John’s Gospel means it has to have more significance than just a legal, “John, take care of my mother. Mom, this is John. He’s going to take care of you now that you’re alone.”
Just looking at the greater context of John’s Gospel, he only records 7 or 8 miracles. The first of them, water into wine, isn’t even recorded in the other Gospels. John wrote his Gospel using much more symbolism than the other three.
Here’s something funny I just realized, Protestants are quick to label John 6 as purely symbolic while labeling 19:27 as purely literal. Catholics label both as literal, but with symbolic meaning. :hmmm:
It cannot be understood by Catholics as a merely pragmatic statement by Jesus.
Catholics interpret scripture with the heart and mind of the Church and the Church has said that there is other significance. That should be enough for a Catholic.
The purpose of Scripture is salvation. God gave us Scripture so that we might be saved. Jesus’ action on the cross as told by St. John has meaning for us in terms of our salvation. It tells us something about getting to heaven.
There is no possible way for us to see the event as merely a pragmatic statement by Jesus. The Bible isn’t trivia.
Remember too that St. John was the only one of Jesus’ hand chosen Apostles to actually witness Jesus carrying the cross and his crucifixion. What an impact it must have had on him. Every word Jesus spoke would have stuck in his heart and mind for the whole of his life. There isn’t any way he would witness the redemption of mankind and then record Jesus’ words about his Mother merely to record that she would have someone to look after her, no matter who was/wasn’t responsible for her care. Really? Jesus wasted breath just to do that when he would have known that Mary would be cared for, even if his family didn’t accept him. As rightous Jews they would have been obligated under the Law to care for her. No, he gave his Mother to the one Apostle who followed him even unto his death on the cross. Once I realized the significance of that, I could not longer believe that Mary was given to John merely so she’d have someone to look after her in this life, but as our Mother, the Second Eve who loves us as her Son loves us and who desires our salvation as he does.
I think Protestants are uncomfortable with this passage because in my opinion, it is the best proof of the BVM’s perpetual virginity. Why in the world would Jesus ask John to take care of Mary if she had other children? He wouldn’t. Where were those other children when Jesus was on the cross? Why weren’t they there to support their mother during her worst moment? John was there supporting her, and he wasn’t even related to her.
My feeling is that John and Mary always had a very close relationship. I can visualize John looking after Mary as they all traveled around with Jesus and the apostles, and this is the reason that John is the “disciple that Jesus loved” for the simple and logical reason that John loved Mary like a mother. So when Jesus gave Mary to John, it wasn’t something unexpected. John had been caring for Mary all along. And if Jesus loved John because John loved Mary, shouldn’t we love Mary too?
This whole topic leaves most Protestants cold. They would rather not think that Jesus loves us because we love His mother and that His mother had no other children.
Or worse, just a “vessel.” As if Jesus had been placed in her womb like a pot in a kiln instead of her conceiving him in her womb. They are, whether they know it or not, one step away from denying the Incarnation when they belittle Mary’s part in God’s plan of redemption.
I’m currently a protestant going through RCIA. I don’t take all scriptures literally, but I look at that verse as that of Christ wants Mary taken care of once he returns to the father. In reality Christ is fully Human and God, so even returning to the father in Heaven, he will be with Mary (the Holy Spirit) which was sent in his place. That is how I have always perceived it. I don’t think they mean to ignore it per se, but I can understand how some would come to that conclusion.
I’m not sure it you were saying this as an exaggeration to make a point, or if you were being sincere–but I’ve actually talked to many protestants who have used that exact word/verbiage to describe the Blessed Virgin Mary. Staggering, really. I’m embarrassed to say it, but it’s taken the wind out of my sails on more than one occasion, and literally left me speechless (where I should have articulated and expressed my indignation, instead I–again, more than one occasion–froze like a deer in headlights).
Jiminy Christmas…If you’re going to reduce Christ’s Mother to a mere vessel…and do it boldly, and brazenly…I may as well be talking to an atheist. Heck…even the Muslims hold Mary in higher regard than many of your more virulent fire and brimstone bible thumpers.
Some of them literally act as if Christ just poofed out of the sky, in a shell–callously referenced as “Mary”–and boom…started walking on water and such.
Note to our protestant friends: God became Man–as all men become men–by being born…to a woman. That entails being an infant. Then a toddler…then a child…an adolescent…a young man…an adult…all the while, that “woman” to whom this particular child was born…was at his side; teaching him how to be a man; nurturing him, protecting him, teaching him, loving him…RAISING him…
NB 2: This mere “woman” was not only chosen from all the women in the history of mankind, anywhere, prior thereto–she was chosen amongst all women from then, to today; all that are today; all what will ever be, today until the end of time…
NB 3: …and not only was this mere “woman” chosen to be the “Theotokos”–the God bearer…THE MOTHER OF GOD…she was created for this very purpose.
NB 4: She was present at the Pentecost, when Christ sent his Holy Spirit to His hand chosen Apostles, at the founding of His Church.
NB 5: The parallels to the Ark of the Covenant are entirely too uncanny, to be clumsy coincidence.
(though I feel a slight correction may be in order–Christ entrusted His dear Mother to St. John; He gave her to all of us–and this was confirmed by her conspicuous presence at the Pentecost–that should dispense of any doubt whatsoever, about her significance in the Salvation Narrative, and to Christ). fwiw.