The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 79.

To the Church alone—to the Church built by Christ upon a Rock, guaranteed by Him the assistance of His Holy Spirit to the end of time, promised victory over the gates of Hell declared by His great Apostle to be the Pillar and Ground of the Truth—it belongs in every age to guard the Christian Revelation from corruption, and to declare the contents of that Revelation authoritatively to mankind. The four Gospels contain no Creed, no formal statement, that is, of Christian doctrine in a connected form. The knowledge of the Christian doctrine is presupposed in the Christians for whom the Gospels were written; it had already been conveyed to them by word of mouth by the authorised teachers who had initiated them in the Mysteries of the Faith. St. John wrote his Gospel with the definite end of establishing the Godhead of Christ against the first heretics; the purpose of the Synoptic Evangelists was not (save incidentally) to teach doctrine at all, but to chronicle the history of leading events in the Life of the Divine Master who already, after His Death and Resurrection, before He left the earth, had commissioned His Church to teach all nations in His Name, vested with His own authority. Amongst the words spoken on earth by our Lord and recorded in the Gospels, those stand out prominently which show us the methods by which He gradually proved to men of goodwill, by parable, rebuke, exhortation and suggestion, more often than by direct statement, the central truth of His Mission from the Father. Ordinarily, our Lord would lead men on step by step. When faith was openly accorded Him, He gave praise unstintingly, and promised magnificent reward. "O woman, great is thy faith, be it done unto thee as thou wilt." (Matt. xv. 28.) "I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel." (Luke vii. 9) " Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest. Greater things than these shalt thou see." (John i. 50.) " Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I say unto thee that thou art Peter." (Matt xvi. 17.) But Christ never asked for the fulness of faith, until the fulness of time had come, after the necessary preparation of mind and will.

When the woman from the crowd cried aloud " Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the paps that gave thee suck," I think it probable that, according to the Eastern custom which, when it would praise a man, often praises him indirectly by praising all those who belong to him, especially father and mother and near relations, her intention was primarily to praise the great Teacher Himself: " Blessed art Thou, and consequently blessed is Thy Mother." Blessedness is ascribed here to the Mother of our Lord in a periphrasis, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, in marked contrast with the direct address of the Angel: " Hail Mary, blessed art thou amongst women," and of Elisabeth : " Blessed art thou that hast believed." 1

However this may be, who can doubt that, had the poor woman's faith been perfect, 2 had she, for example, said categorically: "Blessed is Thy Mother, for Thou art the Lord my God, and she is the Mother of God," our Lord would have said to her too, " O woman, great is thy faith, thou shalt see greater things than these, blessed art thou too, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in Heaven."

1 Cf. " The Trend of a Text," Dublin Review, July, 1919.

2 All those who read the Breviary are aware that the Venerable Bede thinks that the woman in the Gospel already believed in the Incarnation. With all the respect that is due to our great English Doctor of the Church, it seems to me difficult to follow him here.