The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 78.

Twice and twice only do we find any reference to our Lady in the Gospels from the hour when she said to her Son: "They have no wine," until she stood beneath the Cross on Calvary. On neither of these occasions do we read of any words that passed directly between our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

Christ was told that His Mother and His Brethren wished to speak to Him; He took the occasion, laying hold upon the words addressed to Him, to turn the thoughts of those who listened to a great spiritual truth. This, we know, was customary with our Lord. To give but two instances out of a number that might be cited, when a crowd followed Him after the multiplication of the loaves, seeking for further food, Christ gently turned them away from the thought of the food of the body that perisheth to the remembrance of the food of the soul that perisheth not. Again, when He was called Good Master, He caught at the word Good to insist on the Truth that God alone is essential Goodness.

In like manner, when Christ heard mention of His relations according to the flesh, He seized the opportunity to teach the lesson which He was so anxious to impress upon the minds of all who heard His Word. We should note that St. Matthew does not write that our Lord said: " He that doth the Will of God is My mother and My brother "; but " He that doth the will of My Father in Heaven, he is My brother and My sister and My mother."

This short phrase contains in a condensed form the whole of the following process of thought, which would have been clear to those who were listening to our Lord as He spoke : " You say that My Mother and My Brethren are asking for Me. Think not that no one can be dear to Me, can be bound close to Me, save by the bonds of natural kinship. You too can become dear to Me and be bound to Me. Yes, you too may be to Me brother and sister and mother. For I have not only a human Mother, whom you see on earth, and kinsfolk, but also a Father in Heaven whom you cannot see yet. Mother and children should do the will of the Father who is the Head of all the family and household. If you, then, do the Will of My Father, you shall become the members of My Spiritual Family and Household. You shall be bound to Me and shall belong to Me, as brother and sister and mother."

On another occasion a woman of the people, full of admiration at our Lord's miracles of healing and at the wisdom of the words with which He silenced His adversaries, who blasphemously ascribed those miracles to Beelzebub, cried aloud: " Blessed is the womb that bare Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck." But Christ answered, not directly to this woman, but to all who were present—once more laying hold of the words that had been just spoken : " Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it."

I have already given in this book the gist of the patristic comments on this incident. Even Mary, Mother of God, was more blessed in hearing and keeping the Word of God in her soul, than in bearing the Word of God in her body. This is the blessedness to which our Lord would draw the attention of His hearers, that they too might learn to hear the Word of God and keep it.

Assuredly, no man can say that there is anything in either of these admonitions of Christ that is derogatory to our Lady and to the honour which is her due, unless he is prepared to go so far as, like some ancient heretics, to deny that Mary is the true Mother of Jesus, or to forget that His Mother was Blessed by God beyond all other creatures in that she " kept the words of Christ and pondered them in her heart."

There is nothing, then, that can fairly be urged from either of these two passages in the Gospels against Catholic devotion to our Lady; on the other hand it can hardly be argued that they support that devotion directly. In their primary significance, at least from the point of view of devotion to our Lady, it seems to me that taken by themselves they are purely negative, proving nothing either one way or the other. It is true, no doubt, that from the Words of Christ we may quite legitimately deduce the Blessedness of Mary, by laying those Words alongside of others—for example the Salutation of the Angel at the Annunciation and the greeting of Elisabeth to our Lady at the Visitation. (Moreover such a method of collation of one passage of Holy Scripture with others is involved in the exhortation not to read unintelligently, but " to search," that is to look carefully into the Scriptures.) But apart from the setting of the Faith in which Catholics rightly place them—as they were first heard by Jews who knew nothing of the Mysteries of the Incarnation, they could not have been understood then to carry with them any special reference to the supreme Blessedness of Man as the Immaculate Mother of God. They simply conveyed at the time a lesson useful not only to the Jews to whom they were first addressed, but also to Christians to the end of time—the lesson of the blessedness of hearing and keeping the Word of God, in order thus to learn and to do the Will of Him who is our Father in Heaven.

The hour had not yet come for our Lord publicly to glorify His Mother. Her public glorification would follow upon His own, when the Church throughout the world should confess and proclaim Him to be the Eternal God. Meanwhile, both for Jesus and for Mary it was still the hour of humiliation. The world was not yet redeemed, nor the Son glorified with the glory He had before the world was made. Those, therefore, who may look to find in the Gospels words of our Lord directly eulogising the Blessed Virgin, or expressly emphasising her incomparable dignity, or in general affording explicit support for Catholic devotion to Mary, will necessarily be disappointed, not understanding the appointed times and seasons. Moreover, to search for anything of the kind is to betray ignorance as to the purpose for which the Gospels were written, whilst to be troubled because it is not there would be to evince misconception as to the function of the Church in the exposition of the Faith.