While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
At first glance, today’s Gospel might appear to have Jesus slighting his mother. In response to a woman acknowledging Jesus’ greatness by calling out blessings to the woman who gave birth to him and raised him, Jesus turns the blessing around. His reply, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” seems a bit jarring.
Throughout the Gospels, we see evidence of the profound love Jesus had for his mother. It is at her request that Jesus performs his first miracle at the wedding at Cana. One of his last acts before dying on the cross was to entrust Mary’s care to the disciple whom he loved.
Jesus’s response in today’s Gospel should not discount Mary’s role, but rather to focus on the future. We are not to look to our past to give us glory, but rather on how we live our lives going forward. Do we hear the word of God, take it to heart, and live it out in our daily lives?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.