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Disciple with Mary at the Cross

Disciple with Mary at the Cross

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: When Mary was standing near the cross and Jesus saw his mother and a disciple whom he loved standing next to her, he told his mother that she was now his mother and he her son. Do we have any idea who the disciple was?

A: John 19, 25-27 makes reference to the beloved disciple who traditionally (Canon Muratori) was identified as John the apostle and author of the fourth gospel, letters (1-3) and Revelations. This would correspond or coincide with the Ephesus tradition according to which John the apostle who, according to Irenaeus of Lyons (Ad. Haer. III, 1, 1-2), wrote his gospel in Ephesus, took Mary, the mother of God, with him to that famous city in Asia minor where she died according to legend. However, there is no absolute certitude as to whether John the apostle and the beloved disciple were the same person or not. Two arguments speak in favor of two different identities: the beloved disciple remains anonymous. His personal identity is not well circumscribed. Some scripture scholars believe that he stands for the typical or, if you want, perfect or ideal disciple of Jesus. The beloved disciple is always closely related to Christ, at his side (13, 23), faithful unto death (19, 26), witness of the resurrection (20.8), and interpreter of Christ's post-paschal apparitions (21.7). He is the one who best embodies the so-called Johannine menein, i.e. remaining with, in and through Christ. The second argument some scholars use refers to the probable or possible discrepancy between the simplicity of the non-academic apostle John (Acts 4, 13) and the highly cultured author of the fourth gospel. However, it remains that the oldest and strongest Church tradition regarding this question sees in John the apostle and the beloved disciple one and the same person.

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