At the end of a long day, after Our Lord had been driving out demons, debating with Pharisees, and teaching large crowds of people, a woman called out: “Blessed is the womb that carried you!” (Luke 11:27). You can almost hear this woman going on to say: “What a lucky mother to have such a son, such a great teacher”. But Our Lord responded that the truly blessed are those who “hear the word of God and keep it”.
Far from turning attention away from his mother, Our Lord was showing that Mary was not just some lucky girl who received special graces. He understood that his mother constantly chose to lay down her life in obedience to God, and that this was the true blessing. Both the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth could see Mary’s faith and obedience, and this was why they too called her blessed: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).
To Gabriel, Mary said: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Consider for a moment the consequences of Our Lady’s acceptance of this extraordinary message. Imagine you are a young woman, engaged to be married, and now you are willing to accept God’s will to become miraculously pregnant before you and your husband come together. This might be a little difficult to explain to your mother and fiancé, not to mention the town gossips. Wouldn’t you want to suggest that God delay the miracle until after the marriage? Did the world really need to know it was a virgin birth? Did Mary really have to risk being stoned to death for the sin of adultery?
Mary’s disposition of faith and obedience is extraordinary. She deserves to be called the “New Eve,” for like the old Eve, she had free will, but unlike Eve, she trusted, believed, and obeyed. This is the woman Our Lord knew as his mother. He saw her blessedness in her wisdom, strength, faith, and obedience. We too can be blessed if we listen to the word of God and keep it.