Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus

 
 
Sufferers from Mariaphobic Response Syndrome have certain passages they love to bang away at in order to make sure that nobody thinks Mary is special or anything. Indeed, so zealous is the tendency of some Christians to diminish Mary that some even like to bang away at things Scripture does not say about Mary.
 
Take, for starters, these little samples of popular Mariaphobia from various anti-Catholic Web sites chosen at random. It doesn’t take a Freudian to get the sense that some disturbing monsters from the id are at play just below the surface of these attempts to create as much distance as possible between Jesus and Mary:

  • The divine nature of Jesus existed from before eternity, and this cannot be said of Mary. Jesus never called her “mother.” He called her “woman.” 
Indeed, some of the more adamant polemicists find themselves going down some very strange roads as they pour on the rhetorical steam to try to deny Mary any honors. Adopting a “Simon Says” approach to Scripture, they hammer away at “Jesus never called Mary ‘mother,'” while failing to note that this argument also “proves” Jesus never got goose bumps when cold, never sweated when hot, never laughed, and never blinked, since these, too, are not recorded in Scripture.
 
This strange emphasis on denying Mary any connection with motherhood results in statements that are not only catastrophic from the standpoint of simple reason, but that are also just plain . . . creepy. And so, as we see above, one of the oddest tendencies of those bound and determined to reject the Theotokos is their peculiar insistence that Love Incarnate somehow had a relationship with His mother that was more alienated and cold than Joan Crawford’s daughter had with her Mommie Dearest.
 
Indeed, this weird portrayal of the relationship between Jesus as the son who won’t call His mother “Mother” can, in the ramped-up rhetoric of the (relatively few) Protestant critics bent on refuting the Theotokos, result in the complete dehumanization of Mary. The sheer gynecological disgust of the critic grows . . .
 
Mary did what women do. What animals do. There is only one command that mankind at large obeys, and that is to reproduce. It requires no brains, no nobility, no courage, no faith, no virtue. For women it is painful, and I will not deny that.
 
And grows . . .
 
Mary was just an incubator. All she supplied was a virgin womb. God was both Father and Mother of Jesus, Who was the Word, not Mary’s ovum made flesh.
 
And grows . . .
 
Jesus could not in any way have proceeded from the genetics of the fallen, degenerated human race. The undeniable truth is that the chromosomes of the child Jesus did not come from Joseph, but they also did not come from Mary . . . . Mary’s womb was chosen by the Creator to give form to His Human Image. The initial cell of that Human Image, with its 46 chromosomes, originated from the Throne of “the Majesty on High” (Heb 1:3). Mary’s womb was the special “incubator” used by the Eternal One to initiate and form the “Word of God” which was “made flesh.” The blood from Mary’s womb was used by God to protect and feed the embryo, which then became a fetus, which then became the holy child that was born. However, the blood that began flowing through the veins of that Special Human Being had absolutely nothing to do with the blood of the womb from where He was formed throughout the gestational period. For many centuries, the spirit of the deceiver has presented Mary as divine, blasphemously converting her into the “Mother of God.”
 
. . . until, in the effort to save Jesus from contact with the “degenerate” flesh of Mary, He is even saved from contact with the flesh of Adam. The problem is, that means Jesus no longer shares our human nature, but is instead the sole member of a brand new species, born of an egg created ex nihilo and implanted by divine in vitro fertilization into the animal or Incubator Unit He does not deign to call “mother.” And that means He can’t save us from the death that Adam brought into the world, since Jesus is not a member of the human race capable of undoing what Adam did.
 
Of course, most Evangelicals don’t go to these lengths to keep Mary at arm’s length. Instead, they typically content themselves with assuming that Jesus meant to diss His mother in this famous scene from the Gospels:
 
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!” (Lk 11:27-28).
 
Silly Catholics! Praying “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!” all down the centuries when Jesus Himself is saying . . . well, what exactly? That He is not blessed? That can’t be right. That Mary is not blessed? That seems a bit awkward, too, given that Mary herself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — who, you know, conceived Jesus — says (as Luke himself just recorded a few short chapters ago) that, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). So what is the point of this saying?
 
The first point (for our purposes) is, “Friends don’t let friends do Mariaphobic exegesis.” That’s because Scripture — and especially Luke — is not Mariaphobic. So the whole attempt to read Scripture as suffused with the Mommie Dearest spirit is boneheaded. Jesus’ point is not that there is something wrong with saying, “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” Rather, His point is the same as when He tells us, “A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:18-20).
 
This passage is intended to be read “spiritually.” That is, we know Jesus is not talking about horticulture. He is talking about spiritual fruits. However, it is all too common for us to think “spiritual=disembodied.” Mary proves this wrong. Her good fruit (which was, as it is with all of us, a gift of God) was supremely real, tangible, and embodied. In her, the Word became not a metaphor, or an idea, or another word, but flesh. And it is precisely due to her enormous faith that she could do this. So the passage that so many Evangelicals take as yet another swipe at Marian devotion turns out to mean that if you have faith, you are a lot like Mary, whose faith resulted in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is a recommendation that we imitate her and likewise enflesh the word of God in what we do, say, and think. It is for us to bear good fruit as Mary did, by bringing into the world another saint conformed to Christ’s image.

Mark P. Shea

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Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He was a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and is a former columnist for Crisis Magazine.

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