First Person Life

2006-01-21

Just why is Mary Blessed among women?

"And it came about while He [Jesus] said these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice, and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed.' But He said, 'On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.' " (Luke 11:27-28 NASB)


I happened across this short interchange while I was reading through Luke today and it struck me. Why is it that we call Mary Blessed?

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Don't get me wrong, I certainly consider Mary blessed among women, as Scripture says. There is no doubt that she was shown special favor by God. But when we say that, what exactly are we saying?

Are we saying that Mary somehow merits that special status? That she, herself, is somehow more holy than other women? That she, herself, is somehow to be praised, honored, or even worshipped?

The answer to that question must be a resounding "NO!" But reading the above verses caused me to revisit the earlier passages in Luke which speak of Mary. While in Luke 1:28 we have Mary saluted by Gabriel who calls her "favored," and she is one who has "found favor with God," this is not to be taken that she somehow merited favor. And when Elizabeth calls her, "Blessed among women," she is not indicating that Mary somehow, of her own doing or being, deserves such honor.

Rather, all of these must be taken in light of Mary's comment in Luke 1:38 where Mary responds to Gabriel and says, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." This is proved by our citation above, Luke 11:27-28.

It is not that Mary has somehow sought favor and found it with God that she was blessed to be the mother of our Lord, but rather that she "obtained grace from God," and was made the mother of God. It is that heard the word of God spoken by the angel Gabriel and believed it and acted according to it. It was thus not her inherent worth, but the grace of God bestowed upon her and the resulting faith that came from hearing God's word to her that she became blessed.

Thus it is with all of us. When we hear the Good News of Jesus Christ -- that through Him our sins are forgiven -- we receive that same faith. For Faith comes by hearing the Word of God!

Praise God that it is so. And let us continue to call Mary "Blessed" for upon her was bestowed the special gift of carrying the seed promised in the garden of Eden. That seed which was promised to Abraham that would be a blessing to all nations. Namely, Jesus, the Christ who was the lamb without blemish who took upon himself the guilt due for our iniquities and was bruised for our transgressions that through Him, we might inherit eternal life.

4 Comments:

  • You stated, Are we saying that Mary somehow merits that special status? That she, herself, is somehow more holy than other women? That she, herself, is somehow to be praised, honored, or even worshipped?

    As a Christian, I do not believe in worshiping the Blessed Mother but why shouldn’t she receive special status? Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ! Must we forget the commandment honor your father and mother?

    God Himself, commands us, to HONOR our fathers and mothers—do you really believe the mother of the Messiah should be excluded from the word of God?

    What is wrong with praise? Do we not praise our children when they do well…or praise a musician for composing a beautiful worship song? Should we refuse to praise the Blessed Mother for raising the most perfect son? I would be ashamed not to.

    Should we avoid reading the bible in it’s entirety and truth and make up our own truth?

    I urge everyone reading this to pray. Pray for Jesus Christ to reveal an understanding of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary to you.

    In the mean time…I will get back to my scriptural rosary—a reflection on the life and death Jesus Christ through scripture.

    By Anonymous Benedetta, at 6/05/2008 1:22 AM  

  • I realize this is almost 4 years after the fact, but check out Judges 4-5. Jael is also called blessed among women. Only those two are called blessed among women. The reason: Genesis 3:15. Notice, please that those two women were both instrumental in God's work because they defeated the enemies of God by crushing their heads. Jael did this literally, Mary metaphorically through the birth of Jesus.

    That's why they were blessed.

    By Blogger Caleb Williams, at 12/05/2009 1:31 PM  

  • Benedetta: "why shouldn’t she receive special status?"

    I never said she shouldn't receive special status. She DID receive special status as "most favored among women". My question was, does Mary somehow MERIT special status? Absolutely not! She was born a sinful human being like the rest of us. It is only by the UNMERITED grace and favor of God that she was BLESSED AMONG WOMEN to carry and bear the Christ child. It was not something she merited.

    CALEB: Although an interesting note, I'm not sure I entirely agree that a Gen 3:15 connection marks the reason. The angel's pronouncement of Mary as blessed is PRIOR to the Holy Spirit coming upon her and conceiving within her the Christ. Jael is called blessed after the fact and her being "blessed" is to contrast to the MAN heading the Isralite army, Barak, who did not have faith in God and insisted that Deborah (a woman) accompany him into battle. Jael is "blessed" because of her faith, in contrast to Barak who was faithless and does not, therefore, receive the blessing or renown for killing Sisera.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 12/05/2009 2:55 PM  

  • Is it impossible for Mary to be born without sin? Could God have prepared Mary to bear Jesus even before birth. If so might she have been given graces even from birth. Does not God prepare all of us for our calling even before birth? "Blessed are you among women." -surely she is blessed with a calling we cannot fathom and with all the graces necessary for that calling.

    Mary's womb is blessed, but only because she heard the word of God, "Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son..."(Luke 1:31)... and she observed it, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord." ( Luke 1:38)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/06/2011 6:00 PM  

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