As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised
her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and
the breasts that you sucked!" But he said, "Blessed rather are
those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
St. Augustine on the previous passages
"Stretching out his hand over his disciples,
the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers,
anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and
my sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words.
Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith,
who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who
was created by Christ before Christ was created in her--did she not
do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the
Father's will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been
Christ's disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more
blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the
happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as
"Now listen and see if the words of Scripture
do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and the
crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power,
and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed
is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness
in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are
those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God's
word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God's truth in her
mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth
and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary's mind insofar as
he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but
what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried
in the womb.
"The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and
yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a
member of the Church, a holy, an eminent--the most eminent--member,
but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is
greater than she, one of its members. The body has the Lord for its
head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other
words, our head is divine--our head is God.
"Now, beloved, give me you whole attention, for
you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ.
Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord
said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how
you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears
and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my
sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters
of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one
inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow
him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of
the Father, and co-heirs with himself.
"Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not
dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his
words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not
by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am
speaking, are the members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw
to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons
when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to
birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the
mothers of Christ.
-St. Augustine, Sermo 25, 7-8: PL 46, 937-938