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  • Writer's pictureMary Beth Keenan

To Hear and Bear the Word

The Gospel for the vigil mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is only a few lines from Luke, chapter 11, verses 27-28. It the passage where a woman from the crowd calls out blessing the womb that bore Jesus and the breasts at which he nursed.

Jesus’ response seems puzzling that, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

To me, and I know I’m far from the only one, that response has always sounded more like a rebuke than praise or acknowledgement of his Mother Mary. However, skimming it for this reflection it hit me quite differently – proof that the Word of God is living as they say and can always make us new in surprising ways, bearing their fruit.

What struck me was how Jesus was lifting his Mother up as more than his physical mother – the good ‘ole Catholic “both/and” where just because he doesn’t affirm the woman’s praise, doesn’t mean that he disagrees with it.

The word rather throws us with its most common definition of meaning instead or to the contrary. The first definition according to my Merriman-Webster app is “with better reason; more properly.”

In that sense, the Son praises his Mother almost quoting her Magnificat, which is the Gospel for the Assumption's day mass.

When we read Mary’s words – “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.”

Elizabeth’s blessing of Mary among women and the fruit of her womb – we hear that fruit, the result of

Mary’s hearing of God’s word through the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. A hearing that was the ultimate receptiveness, the utmost observance, such that God became man through her – carried in her womb and nurtured at her breasts.

The sun for clothing, the moon her footstool,

This Mother of God and ours, assumed, reveals

the destiny of those for whom Jesus is life’s jewel.

Resurrection in whole – body and soul –

This enemy death, crushed under Christ’s feet,

Grace given through our Virgin, Blessed and sweet.

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