Sunday, 21 October 2018

Do you have your back against the wall? A lesson from history

This below was inspired by a sermon by Rev Dr Peter Sanlon, 21 October, 2018

Having one’s ‘back against the wall’ is a familiar phrase. Probably originating in military terminology, it means to be cornered and having only one way forward, which is either a steep, risky route or fighting an enemy hand to hand, or both. Most of us have tasted this experience in the sense of being in a metaphorical ‘corner’ at least once in our lives. Sometimes, we have faced it, more than once. I had a testing period in my life of facing it regularly through illness. One can find oneself:

  • without a job or a roof over one’s head;
  • facing one’s funds running out within days; or hours; 
  • alone, abandoned, paralysed or disabled in some way, unable to help oneself, through effort;
  • traumatised by some event or inner turmoil leading to a paralysis of will, mind or body;
  • at the end of all one’s human options; 
  • experiencing some of all of the above, at once.

I call it ‘The Eleventh Hour Scenario’ and I believe that the Divine Hand fashions these scenarios just like a novelist tightens the screw, in the final chapter of a thriller, to bring about total darkness before dawn. A magnificent example of this appears in The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 36 when terrifying, warlike Assyrians, having conquered the Middle East, surround the walls of Jerusalem under the command of King Sennacherib in 701 BC. He is clearly a military leader not short on ruthlessness and overweening self-confidence. His message to King Hezekiah and the Jews is a mixture of taunts and mockery. His messengers try to bypass Hezekiah and his counsellors, who speak Aramaic, by speaking directly to the Jews on the walls, in Hebrew. The message is:
  • Where are your resources and Egyptian allies (‘where are your friends, family and church when you need them?’)? In fact, the City had new walls and underground aqueducts which still exist, put in place by Hezekiah 
  • Who are you 'few' to stand against our numbers ('you are such a loser')? 
  • Where is your God? See how weak He is even in your own eyes and see how other gods have been crushed.('Your God should help you')
  • Why trust your King and his God i.e. rebel against them now and save yourselves? 
Already King Hezekiah has sent Jerusalem Temple’s doors to buy off the Assyrians and had exhausted all the city’s financial resources. He has nothing, humanly speaking, to fall back on, except prayer and faith. Being a good king, he throws his full weight on God and it is in recognition of the King’s complete surrender at The Eleventh Hour, that the divine answer comes via the Prophet Isaiah. 

God says He has been blasphemed by Sennacherib and his messengers. As a result, says the Lord, in Chapter 37, the Assyrians will fail to conquer Jerusalem and Sennacherib will fall ‘by the sword’. Within a short time, the Assyrian hordes die, en masse through The Angel of God and only the remnant return home to Nineveh. Sennacherib is later murdered, according to the prophecy by his own sons. Amazingly, many of these facts are verified outside the Bible, in seals dug up and in the records of the Assyrians. The Eleventh Hour Rescue was, and is, real.

Today, like Hezekiah, people of faith are surrounded by enemies just as Jerusalem was (and is) encircled today. ‘The Eleventh Hour for Christianity in Europe’ is upon us and a new Technological Dark Age is dawning. The way that Europe is heading, today, unless there is a revival of the Christian faith within twenty years, historic churches, notably in the UK will be sold off in huge numbers during the 2030s and 2040s. A remnant of faithful will worship ‘underground’, as in the former Soviet Union. Christians may be hounded out of the public sphere. All this could happen within the lifetimes of many living today. The Christian West will return to the Hellenistic or Assyrian world, or even worse to a bleak, barren, atheist, technological dystopia, familiar from Hollywood films.

What can we do, both personally and nationally? The lesson is always the same. We have to give up our self reliance and human wisdom and turn (back?) to faith. We must put all our hopes in Him and admit that only He can ‘do it’. We must call on The Almighty and He will act on our behalf for, as He later shows Hezekiah, He can halt and even reverse Time i.e. change History.

I have long pondered why God specialises in creating The Eleventh Hour Scenario? The reason is that it is only when have exhausted all our own resources and all our self reliance that God acts, through His Son, in visible might and power so that:

a) we learn to live by faith alone and not by our human strength; and
b) all the glory for our rescue goes to Him, because there was no other explanation for our survival/escape.



Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Melanie Phillips writing in The Times on democracy

Melanie Phillips in The Times (16 October) sums up what is deeply worrying about the ‘new’ closed politics of today.

Democracy, which until recently everyone seemed to support, is now despised by large swathes of the so-called ‘elites'. For example, post-Brexit, British 'elites' have seriously challenged the result of the majority Brexit vote. Some continue to rail in public against it, or worse, are actively seeking to undermine it. Many simply will not accept the vote.

Yet, as far as I see it,  'elites' do not seem to have extrapolated their position. What does railing and activism do in relation to the outcome of future UK General Elections? Why should anyone accept a) the result and b) the authority of any future elected Government? Why don't we all become anarchists and ungovernable - now? What does it do to our former consensus of how we govern ourselves i.e. through majority voting? The Brexit vote was given to the people partly because there were arguments on both sides that paralysed even the British Parliament. The EU referendum was the solution of our own Parliament to its own paralysis: the referendum was supported by all political parties.

The Enlightenment was childishly naive about human nature. Contrary to the notions of its naive, atheist philosophers, Man/Woman is not born sweet, good and innocent but deeply oriented to 'self'. 'Enlightened' idealists and republicans have never recovered emotionally from how the French Revolution resulted, within a short time, in a ghastly bloodbath. Its profound shock gave a certain William Wordsworth a nervous breakdown and, thereafter, he sought solace in Nature. Yet they continue to fail to understand that unaccountable human nature tends to cruelty, power and dictatorship, like a homing pigeon to its loft. Democracy sets the limit on power: it is the people's call to accountability. It tests the ideologies of power against their practical results via the only megaphone of the vulnerable masses. Without imperfect democracy, what is there?

Ms Phillips continues: ‘Hitherto it was accepted that those who lose a vote should, nonetheless, abide by the outcome’. The continuance of democracy relies on 'citizens accepting outcomes that they don’t like'. Losers used to ‘display tolerance, in the interest of the common good’. Also patience. No more....

To challenge and rail against a democratic vote is to challenge the very fabric of democracy itself. The irony is that the same people who worked hard to commend democracy to all other nations on earth, now reject it, in the UK. She says that they concoct fake or ‘spurious’ (actually, very patronising and insulting) arguments to ‘excuse’ challenging democracy i.e.

  • ‘the Brexit majority was very small’
  • (uneducated, small minded) 'people did not understand what they were voting for’
  • ‘they were led astray by Russian trolls’ 
  • ‘they never envisaged how difficult it would be’
  • ‘no intelligent human being could ever vote the Brexit way’.
Reading between the lines, she says, the underlying meaning is that Brexit was delivered by people with the ‘wrong’ views and that ‘these people’ do not count as equal or respectable human beings. This way madness lies:  for Brexit was simply a case of the majority of people not being sufficiently convinced by the arguments. Remainers either miscalculated  e.g. in pursuing 'Project Fear'  (which showed lack of wisdom) or they had no better case to make (which showed their case was weak). Either way they were 'losers'.

Weirdly, in my view, the comments above are coming from those one previously thought were moderates, apolitical, and not even overtly 'liberal'. They are also coming from those who have vehemently campaigned for equality, fraternity, respect and human rights. Surely they realise, being highly educated, that this is how the Nazis and Stalinists viewed some of their fellow human beings - as inferiors, unworthy of even life, let alone basic rights? The idea of two-tiers of people, comprised of a superior 'elite race' and inhuman 'deplorables' easily escalates into the kind of societies that resulted in the Nazi concentration camps and gulags.

Ms Phillips is also alarmed by the current hardening of positions into polarised ‘camps’. She wants to be able to hold nuanced, carefully balanced positions, on many topics. She wants to support 'rapists being locked up' while not supporting the #MeToo campaign’s presuppostion that every woman is whiter than white; she wants to worry about the flaws in President Trump while conceding that he has achieved some good things. No doubt she wants to hold the Leave position while conceding that things will not be easy. She does not want to be put in a straight jacket of one of two (black or white) camps.

MeToo.

Reference:  Melanie Phillips’ article in the Times 16 October 2018
'Liberal sore losers don’t respect democracy'


Friday, 7 September 2018

Review: The Bodyguard

The UK is currently gripped by BBC’s fast paced ‘The Bodyguard’, a six part drama about a female Home Secretary and her Personal Protection Officer (PPO), or bodyguard. Yet the former Home Secretary for eight years, Mrs May, current Prime Minister, switched it off, after 20 mins. She perceived, no doubt, what I set out below, that it is sensational and undermines the role of (female)  Home Secretaries.

Nevertheless Amber Rudd, MP, is gripped. She stepped down from being Home Secretary after two years and says it is very close to the truth. Home Secretaries have a very close relationship with their bodyguards but not, of course, a ‘romantic’ (and abusive) one, she says.

Without completely ruining it for those who have not been following it, I suggest that the depiction of how a well-educated woman would react in such a role is utter drivel. Elegant and childless, 41 year old Home Secretary ‘Julia Montague’ read law at London University, practised as a barrister, was married and divorced by 2012 and eagerly propelled herself, partly by voting for overseas wars into one of the Government's top jobs. But does she have any judgement, or any morals? Here are a few of her unforgiveable mistakes:
  • Not knowing who her real enemies are and trusting no one, except perhaps unwisely her bodyguard. Those trying to kill her could be well-organised terrorists, the Prime Minister's friends, MI5, The Metropolitan Police (The Met), her former husband or her own bodyguard. At least she knows she is unpopular in the country, through trying to bring in a strong 'Snooper’s Charter' online to tackle terrorism, yet she still seems astonished at public demonstations against her (how 'out of touch') ;
  • Actively exploiting and seducing her married but separated bodyguard whose marriage has apparently broken down through post traumatic shock syndrome caused by the physical and mental scars from being a soldier, either in Iraq or Afghanistan; 
  • Taking information from MI5 on a secret device against the advice of The Met and being rude to The Met openly in meetings. It is probably unwise to be rude to the police, even if you are Home Secretary; 
  • Using MI5’s secret incriminating file to threaten the Prime Minister, in his own home, Chequers, apparently in order to take over his job; 
  • Speaking in public in London directly after a nearly successful attempted assassination attempt, which The Met did not save her from; 
  • Keeping on a bodyguard who has tried to strangle her, apparently when half asleep, thinking she is a terrorist. 
I contest that no woman who reaches such a position would be so wicked and foolish. Seducing one's bodyguard, who has to pay his bills and divorce settlement, is serious sexual abuse, but continuing to employ him (through not having any other trusted friends) after he has tried to strangle you is madness. Secretly blackmailing the Prime Minister using his own MI5 secret file is crazy. No sensible Home Secretary would walk around in public without armour plating and men with guns at the ready after being nearly shot to pieces in an official car by a sniper who is unidentified.

This fiercely ambitious, attractive yet second rate woman (of male imagining) is 'five fathoms' out of her depth. She should have stepped down long ago. So why are we so convinced by this drama and even growing sympathetic to her needy isolation?

Is it because we think we are already led by people, including women, with more naked ambition than honour/sense and we like to think they are still human?  Or it is very cleverly written?

The next episode is on Sunday evening.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Jesus is worth it, is He?

A preacher in church this morning said ‘Jesus is worth it’. Instantly, I saw this as the crucial question of our times. We hear so many siren voices today. He compared them to radio stations vying for the same channel and frequency, coming and fading on the car radio, all selling contradictory solutions to the conundrum of 'the good life'. How can we know which ‘blessings’ will be 'delivered' and which are half truths or straight lies? A lot are.

I've never met a Christian who has said 'I really regret believing and being baptised' (and I never expect to). I have met those who later express regret in a) following political or philosophical ideas (ideologies built on mistakes) b) marrying someone (who turns out to be unloving and/or unfaithful) or c) doing certain things in their younger days (naivete and rebellion). Jesus is worth it for many reasons (far too many to set out here). His benefits include these.

By following Jesus one can:
  • know the one Person who never leaves or abandons one (find a relationship of faithful love); 
  • find God’s Truth (which is ultimate and absolute Truth) and discover how sin and the enemy are overcome at the Cross, through deeply understanding the Holy Scriptures (find spiritual wisdom); 
  • find a community of decent people anywhere, instant friendship, partners in mission and even in life (find life to the full, find a global, real community) 
But one is also removing from the world:
  • a lost soul endlessly looking for ‘myself’ (true identity) but being deceived into seeking what they will never find (lasting satisfaction) and what cannot 'deliver' (idols, covetousness); or, if they do attain their goal, either find that it is an empty or fractured 'prize', not worth all the effort, or that complete possession slips from their fingers; worst of all, it comes with too high a price tag and injures (e.g. thrillseekers wanting the sensation of 'being alive') 
  • proto-anarchic, alienated, destructive tendencies intent on destroying or destabilising what is enduring, the innocent, society and the godly (innate hatred of God and goodness) - also see footnote on Fromm's 'syndrome of decay' 
  • a 'consuming' materialist worldview (with its inner contradictions) 
Jesus is worth it for us individually but Jesus is also ‘worth it’ for society and the ongoing life of the world. He is The Life Force.

Eric Fromm identified the core of modernity as the ‘syndrome of decay’ or ‘necrophilia’, the urge to destroy everything meaningful and to crush true life, to turn everything into mechanics without meaning. It is the mechanistic mindset of those unconsciously serving the anti-life force (usually but not always in the form of profit, power and greed) attempting to make everything uniform  - and thereby 'controllable'.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

A crisis for democracy and a debate frozen in time

George Soros and others are launching a new campaign to overturn Brexit, with a huge march next Saturday, in London, demanding a second referendum.

The debate is raging in the British media and people are expressing a real sense of impending crisis. Oddly, even highly educated British are debating this topic as if Europe/EU has not changed since June 2016. I attribute this to the British not reading non-English media and having little historic interest in keeping up with Europe, politically.

It is clear to me from many comments on Charles Moore's article today ('Remain zealots forget that democracy is all about meaningful votes') that everyone is discussing an EU frozen in time, as it was three or more years ago or in June 2016. However, the issues have moved on a lot since the Brexit vote. The EU is in crisis about its survival, due to what it calls 'populism' - as we saw very recently in the President of Italy's changing decisions on power.

So I ask British Remainers: If the UK stays in the EU, which side of the current stand off will the British support? Back the EU leaders against Italy's demand to control its own borders, led by a democratically-elected Italian Government? Italians are in genuine revolt against the EU because they have been taught since kindergarten that the EU is the best thing since the Roman Empire (i.e. they will benefit financially from it). Would the UK really support the EU against democratic decisions in Italy?

I ask Leavers: Do you seriously believe that very keen Remainers still believe in democracy? I have spoken with some influential metropolitan Remainers. They openly despise it as much as they do 'overcharging' British workers. They say democracy is 'too short term'. They want a wise oligarchy instead and seem to have finished with British democracy. For them, democracy has come to a full stop: they do not want it or respect it.  Some probably want to scupper democracy in order to kill it.

Anna Soubrey MP,  Dominic Grieve MP, George Soros and Mark Malloch Brown must clearly set out how an oligarchy will handle the disenfranchised without censorship and other tools of totalitarianism. They need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the majority of British people - requiring a separate referendum campaign - how an oligarchy works to the benefit of all, drawing on convincing real life examples of its imagined 'better outcomes for all'.

The UK needs to vote for any alternative to democracy which is not perfect but at least delivers leadership and a direction, even by a majority of 1.5m votes.

Many will reply: 'But the British voted on that issue two years ago in June 2016. The democratic answer was 'TINA'  which stands for 'There Is No Alternative' (which was Mrs Thatcher's stapline text)'. Italy recently came up with the same answer: 'TINA'.

Monday, 23 April 2018

William Cecil - a proto-feminist?

William Cecil, effectively Queen Elizabeth 1st's Prime Minister, the patriarch of many well known people today, tasted bitter personal loss, movingly expressed in the long essay he wrote on the tombs of his brilliant wife Mildred and his daugher, Anne de Vere, in Westminster Abbey. Mildred was very reformed and he highlights her learning, faith and charity, as the daughter of Edward VI's tutor.   How many men write like this about women even today?


Mildred and Anne, tomb Westminter Abbey with Cecil's long essay, incribed around them
By unknown - http://www.kateemersonhistoricals.com/TudorWomenC-Ch.html, Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30778724 
"Mildred, first born daughter of the noble Lord Anthony Cooke, Kt. a
man of virtue and distinguished learning, a noble Maecenas to all men
of letters; her mother was the Lady Anne, daughter of Lord William
Fitzwilliams, Kt.: celebrated and high born because of her parents'
ancient pedigree, tracing its descent from many of the noble families
of the realm, she was no less famed and exceedingly praised by all the
learned for her erudition, combined with her steadfast profession of
the Christian faith, and her singular knowledge of the Greek and Latin
tongues, which knowledge she received solely at the hands of her
father, who instructed her. She became, in her 20th year the wife of
Lord William Cecil, Lord of Burghley, and afterwards, by reason of her
husband's being ennobled with the title of Baron of the realm, she was
created Baroness of Burghley and bore him many children, but three
only who attained maturity: that is, Anne, Robert and Elizabeth".

Under here (mine eyes are full of tears, my spirit oppressed with the
greatest grief) appear the likenesses of two illustrious women, who,
while they yet lived, were most dear to me, far beyond the whole race
of women kind. 

Should anyone seek to know who is this old man kneeling here, grey
headed, venerable, girt about with his parliamentary robes, Knight of
the Order of the Garter: and who are these two noble ladies,
splendidly attired, and who these kneeling at their heads and feet; he
will discover all these things from the following words of the old
man, and from the inscriptions appended to each.

She whose likeness is below was - alas, was - my Mildred, my wife,
dearest above all: the other, mine too, was my most beloved daughter.
Mildred became my wife in the year of Our Lord 1546 and lived
with me constantly and harmoniously for 43 years, and she shared all
my fortunes in times good and bad, throughout the reigns of kings
Henry VIII and Edward VI, and queens Mary and Elizabeth (who still
felicitously holds sway); she bore me many children but three only
reached maturity, namely two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, and one
son Robert. 

But it was my daughter Anne who was ever my darling: given
in marriage to Edward Vere, most illustrious Earl of Oxford, Lord
Great Chamberlain of England, she became, by virtue of this marriage,
Countess of Oxford, and bore to her husband more than a few sons, none
of them long surviving, and three daughters yet living, whose
likenesses are to be seen, kneeling at their mother's head. The first
is Lady Elizabeth, the second Lady Bridget, the third Lady Susannah.
This my daughter Anne lived from a tender age amidst abundant and
universal acclaim, both at Court and at home, a maid most modest and
virtuous, a wife without fault for her husband. At last, to the great
grief of myself and her mother, she was untimely snatched away from us
and yielded up her spirit to God who gave it; her soul once restored
to God, my wife and I, with many tears, saw to it that her body should
repose beneath this monument of stone. 

But mother followed hard upon...

daughter; although I never think earnestly upon her without tears, yet
certain things suggest themselves which in passing small degree seem
to assuage my grief: namely, when I call again to mind how, throughout
the whole of her life, she was conversant with sacred literature, and
the writings of holy men, and especially those Greeks such as Basil
the Great, Chrysostym, and Gregory Nanzianus, and others of their ilk.
Yet most comforting to me is to recollect how great were the benefits
that she conferred in secret upon the learned, how great her deeds of
pity towards the poor: (which things are more apparent to all after
her death than they were during her life...

...how, moreover, she endowed colleges in either university with
monies, and bequeathed sums in perpetuity for the m aintenance of
scholars, particularly at the college of St John the Evangelist at
Cambridge; (and how) also she was so deeply concerned for the upkeep
of the needy in the towns of Romford (whence her family had its
origin), and Burghley, where is our ancestral seat, that she saw to it
that on the first Sabbath day of each month provisions and money were
always distributed to the poor, especially to needy widows and orphans
of Burghley, and that frequent discourses were delivered there upon
the Word of God. She also decreed that, in each of these aforesaid
towns, a considerable sum of money should be distributed every two
years in perpetuity for the benefit of poor mechanicals [poor
labourers]. After these and many other outstanding services of like
kind to God and country, to me her husband, to her children, to the
learned, and to the poor, she freely rendered up her soul to God in
her climacteric year, that is to say, her 63rd, on 4th April in the
year 1589. I, as husband and father, thought fit that her body should
join that of our daughter Anne, shortly before laid to rest beneath
this stone, that they should be preserved together, in hope of
resurrection.

But to what purpose do I continue? I shall make an end of words of
lamentation, saying only this, that this sight is to me so full of
woe, that, although those sweet children who remain to me, so full of
promise, offer some degree of solace, yet neither these four, so dear
to me as they are, nor my beloved eldest son, Thomas Cecil, nor all
his descendants yet living, grandsons and granddaughters numbering
eleven in all, to whom I also add the little boy William Pawlett, son
of my granddaughter Lucy Cecilia by William Pawlett, son and heir of
the Marquess of Winchester - none of these will ever efface the grief
which, for me, pertains to this spectacle"

The virtuous Lady Mildred Burghley lived to the age of 63 and left
many a testimony of her piety towards God, her charity to the learned
and the poor: deeds which, while she lived, she concealed under the
names of other good persons, but which then were known in the presence
of God, and now, her life being over, without any doubt are surely
laid up for her in heaven. She met her death on the 4th April 1589 at
the home of her husband, Lord Burghley, in Westminster."

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Why did Jesus give his mother to John?

One of the last or 'Seven Words from the Cross' was the commandment of Jesus to two people standing at its foot:  to his mother and to his Apostle, John:

"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 her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19 v 25-27)"


Buhl Altarpiece of The Crucifixion
In effect, Jesus said to his mother 'Go and live permanently with John'. He commanded John to financially and emotionally take care of her, like he would his own mother, for the rest of her life. John's Gospel says that this arrangement took place. This is a mystery because Mary had other children, four sons and a number of daughters, called the family of Jesus, in scripture, which some Catholics find hard to accept - but it is 'there', in black and white.  His brothers were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and his sisters were not named. There seems to be a later historic text, mentioning the family of Jesus and land they owned:  his was a family who had a direct line of descent from King David. They could have been of interest to the Romans and, politically, an ongoing threat.

Mary, at the Cross, would have been at least forty five years old. She was at least twelve when she gave birth to Jesus, though she could have been as old as sixteen. Jesus was thirty three, so she may have been nearer fifty. She was a crucial part of the Divine Plan of Redemption and a direct descendant of King David, herself. At the start of the ministry of Jesus, she had wilingly, or half willingly, sided with the younger brothers of Jesus, who, St John's Gospel says 'did not believe in Him'. At one point, she and they went to try to force him to give up His ministry and come home with them to Nazareth, telling people he was 'out of his mind' i.e. mentally ill.  Jesus repudiated them by saying that his real mother and brothers were those who did the will of God. Clearly, at that point, they were not doing it and he treated them as he did Peter, with a "Get-behind-me-Satan" type of statement.

John was a very gracious Apostle. The words 'loving and kind' spring to mind, judging from the text of his wondrous Gospel which is, to my mind, the greatest written text in the world. His Epistles show he was very gracious to the women, starting letters with most unusually warm words, such as 'Beloved Lady' etc. What is less well known is that John was also the first cousin of Jesus, the son of Salome, the sister of Mary. He and his brother, James, another one of the Twelve, were the emotional 'sons of thunder', the loving, inventive and mildly critical nickname for them, coined by Jesus. Therefore, John was directly descended from King David and in the royal line. Salome, his mother was still alive, and with her sister, Mary, at the Cross, along with Mary the wife of Clopas. The sisters must have been clinging together, in traumatised shock and grief.

Jesus was saying to his mother "Go and live with your sister, Salome and her son John, my beloved disciple, for whom I will provide and who will provide for you. In this way, you will know that I am still providing directly for you, through him, as your enduringly faithful eldest son".

If the nuclear family means everything today, it was different in those times. The extended family was just as important and a necessary social support system. Jesus may have been thought to be with Salome and John, i.e. his close extended family, when he went missing on the way from Jerusalem, when he was twelve.

The key question is why did he not give Mary to one of his brothers? He also had an unknown number of almost certainly married sisters, as everyone was married then, excluding him. The reason may be that their level of faith was the issue at that point. Clearly, Mary was very close to her sister, Salome and to John who was the only Apostle, as far as we know, faithful at the Cross, and probably there, officially, as a male blood relative. The Cross was an experience that deeply bonded this family group.

Jesus knew the whole story of his family, past present and future. His brother James who came to faith after the Resurrection, became leader of the Jerusalem Church and was martyred. There is a suggestion (I am unsure where) that he was a trained priest. Maybe Mary actually preferred to be with her sister Salome and John, based on the Lake of Galilee and later elsewhere? They were both faithful Christians with a proven track record of courage, utterly loyal to Jesus and Mary. There is a tradition that John became Bishop of Ephesus, the messianic church that the preaching of Paul helped to build, after Mary died in Judea, which included Jerusalem and Galilee.   There is another strand that claims she went to Epehesus, with John, and died there.  There is a House of The Virgin Mary. The truth is 'no one knows'.

Whatever the case, one can be certain that Jesus ensured that Mary felt completely safe, cared for, fully honoured and respected as the 'highly favoured and blessed' woman she was. St John, after all was the one who really knew who the identity of Jesus in the eternal and divine scheme of things.  He wrote "In the beginning was The Word and the Word was with God...and the Word was God."

The Apostle John lived to a great age and does not seem to have been martyred, but ended up as a very old man, on Patmos, a Roman penal colony near Epehesus, possibly around 80 AD. Mary may have lived a long life too, but she may have been in Heaven by then, having been born around 16 BC. Life was generally much shorter in the ancient world. Most of all of the rest of the Apostles were dead by then, having died violently, relatively young.