“As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Lk 11: 27-28)
The unnamed “woman in the crowd” who raised her voice and blessed Mary, the most-holy Theotokos, is pointing out the unique, inimitable part of Mary’s vocation, which was giving birth to our Lord Jesus Christ, in the flesh. But none of us share that specific vocation with the one-and-only Mother of God, so we can’t “relate” to it, really, – and by “really” I mean that we can not, nor are we called to, follow the Holy Virgin in that vocation, unique in all of Salvation History. “We” have never given birth to, nor will ever give birth to, the incarnate Son of God, after all.
So, praising or blessing the Mother of God (only) from that aspect sort of alienates us from the Theotokos, in terms of the practical implications of the Theotokos’s example for our own lives. And the woman in the crowd may have been thinking something along the lines of, Wow, how blessed is that woman; “I” don’t have a son like this one… (Sigh.) But Christ draws this woman’s attention to that which she, and all of us, do have in common with the Theotokos. And that is, our call to “hear” the word of God, and to “keep” it; that is to say, to internalize and let it grow inside us, that we may then share it, “give birth” to it, in our world. We are all called to share in this “blessedness.”
Today, as New Calendar folks prepare to celebrate the great feast of Dormition (Assumption), and OC-people begin the Dormition Fast, I pray that the Most Holy Theotokos help me to “hear” this call to blessedness, this word of God, and to “keep” it in my heart throughout my schedule. Let me stay close to the life-giving words of the Lord, and not be preoccupied with death-bringing words, when they come at me, whether from outside or from within my own head. Most Holy Theotokos, Blessed Among Women, let me let myself be blessed with you today. Amen!