Saturday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time
Galatians 3:22-29, Luke 11: 27-28
“Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” As I read this exclamation of the woman in today’s gospel passage, I was reminded of the greeting the angel gave Mary at the annunciation: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28). The theme of this greeting was taken up by Elizabeth at the visitation. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear” (Lk. 1:42). No doubt, whenever our blessed Mother pondered the words of Gabriel and Elizabeth, she would counterbalance them with the prophetic utterance of Simeon. “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him” (Lk. 2:34). As the Divine Word took flesh within her womb, she gave flesh to the word she heard in all she did and said. Every day of her life, Mary repeated her act of total surrender. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me” (Lk.1:38).
The conversation between Jesus and the unknown woman merits consideration. When Jesus responded to the woman’s comment, he wanted to expand her understanding of Mary’s motherhood. Mary not only gave birth and nourishment to her son, but she was also a model of faith, closeness to The Holy One of Israel, and an intentional way of observant living in this world. There is more to being a parent than merely giving birth and providing meals. As wife and mother, it was Mary’s responsibility to keep her household kosher and to create an atmosphere of fidelity to the covenant God made with His chosen people. In this, Jesus’s words, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it”, resonate Elizabeth’s statement to Mary, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk. 1:45)
Granted, it is a grace to hear the word of God. It is not enough for us to be passive recipients of the implanted Word. Like Mary, once we have heard the word, we must ponder it in our hearts, and make it the motivating force of our lives. To give honor to Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Lord, and the Mother of the Church, I will close with a few lines taken from the book of Judith. “You are the crowning glory of Jerusalem. You are the surpassing joy of Israel. You are the splendid boast of our nation. With your own hand, you have won this victory for Israel. The Lord God All-Powerful is pleased with all you have done. May the Lord bless you all the days of your life.” All the people said, “Amen” (Judith 15:8-10).