“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. – John 19: 26-27 (NRSV)
What does it mean to you that even upon the cross Jesus was taking care of the people with him? Does this say anything about the importance of relationships? If so what does it say?
The following story was sent to me:
I sat next to the bed of old man, a friend for over 20 years, and held his hand. Hal was dying. We both knew these next few days would be his last.
We spent time reminiscing about his long and fruitful career as a church pastor. We talked about old friends. We chatted about his family. And I listened as he offered sage wisdom and advice to a member of a “younger generation.”
At a lull in the conversation, Hal seemed to carefully consider what he was about to say next. Then he squeezed my hand, gazed intently into my eyes and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “Nothing is more important than relationships.”
I knew that this was somehow near the pinnacle of his life’s learnings. As he considered all of his experiences — personal, professional, spiritual and family, this one ultimate observation surfaced above the rest: “Nothing is more important than relationships.”
“Don’t get overly caught up in your career,” he seemed to be saying to me. “Likewise, don’t use people in order to achieve your goals, then throw them away. No project, no program, no task should be pursued at the expense of friends and family. Remember,” I heard him saying, as clearly as if he were speaking the words, “that in the end, only your relationships will truly matter. Tend them well.”
Writer Og Mandino puts it this way: “Beginning today,” he said, “treat everyone you meet as if he or she were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”
At the end of a long life, my friend Hal would have agreed.
Even on the cross Jesus recognized the relationships right in front of him. Sure there was a great goal he was achieving, but not at the expense of the people who would live on without him physically present. If Jesus could take time out of saving the world to make sure people he loved were taken care of, I hope we can take time out of our days to remember that nothing is more important than relationships. That might have been Jesus’ whole point!