But now a further question arises, which it may be worth considering. It may be asked, Why did our blessed Lord even seem to extenuate the honour and privilege of His Mother? When the woman said, "Blessed is the womb," etc., He answered indeed, "Yea." But He went on, "Yea, rather blessed." And on another occasion, if not on this, He said when someone told Him that His Mother and brethren were without, "Who is My Mother?" etc. And at an earlier time, when He began His miracles, and His Mother told Him that the guests in the marriage feast had no wine, He said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." These passages seem to be coldly worded towards the Blessed Virgin, even though the sense may be satisfactorily explained. What then do they mean? Why did He so speak?

Now I shall give two reasons in explanation:

1. The first which more immediately rises out of what I have been saying is this: that for many centuries the Jewish women had looked out each of them to be the Mother of the expected Christ, and had not associated it apparently with any higher sanctity. Therefore they had been so desirous of marriage; therefore marriage was held in such special honour by them. Now marriage is an ordinance of God, and Christ has made it a sacrament—yet there is a higher state, and that the Jews did not understand. Their whole idea was to associate  religion with pleasures of this world. They did not know, commonly speaking, what it was to give up this world for the next. They did not understand that poverty was better than riches, ill name than good name, fast and abstinence than feasting, and virginity than marriage. And therefore when the woman in the crowd cried out upon the blessedness of the womb that bore Him and the breasts that He had sucked, He taught her and all who heard Him that the soul was greater than the body, and that to be united to Him in spirit was more than to be united to Him in flesh.

2. This is one reason, and the other is more interesting to us. You know that our Saviour for the first thirty years of His earthly life lived under the same roof as His Mother. When He returned from Jerusalem at the age of twelve with her and St. Joseph, it is expressly said that He was subject to them. This is a very strong expression, but that subjection, that familiar family life, was not to last to the end. Even on the occasion upon which the Evangelist says that He was subject to them, He had said and done what emphatically conveyed to them that He had other duties. For He had left them and stayed in the Temple among the doctors, and when they expressed surprise, He answered, "Wist ye not that I ought to be in the things which are My Father's?" This was, I say, an anticipation of the time of His Ministry, when He was to leave His home. For thirty years {93} He remained there, but, as He was steadily observant of His home duties, while they were His duties, so was He zealous about His Father's work, when the time came for His performing it. When the time of His mission came, He left His home and His Mother and, dear as she was to Him, He put her aside.

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