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!’” (Lk 11: 27-28)

The unnamed woman in the crowd is, I dare say, quite “graphic” in her praise of the Lord’s Mother. One might think she could’ve simply said, “Your Mother must be so proud of You!” rather to the same effect. But instead she mentions “the womb that bore” Him and “the breasts that nursed” Him, drawing my attention to the physical side of the motherhood of the Theotokos.

While Christ in His reply turns our attention to the “blessedness” to which we are all called, together with the All-Blessed Theotokos, of hearing and obeying His word, I am struck today by the reminder of the physical, historical fact of the motherhood of the Blessed Among Women. It is an important truth, which, more than anything else in Salvation History, underlines the “realness” of the Incarnation. He was, indeed, born and nursed, and His clothing washed, not mythologically, not somehow “symbolically,” but by a concrete human being, - a young Jewish woman from Nazareth with no washing machine.

Today let me gratefully remember this refreshing, historical nature of our faith, which is not based on some instructive myth, nor on some abstract philosophy or collection of ethical teachings. It is based primarily on personal relationships with concrete, living persons; in communion with the divine-human Person of Jesus Christ, His Father, His Holy and life-giving Spirit, and in the “communion of the saints.” It is in the lived experience of my relationships with these Persons and people that I make my journey to salvation, as I am reminded in this petition of the Divine Liturgy: “Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.”

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