CONTINUING His denunciation of these hypocritical leaders of the Jews, Jesus told them a parable illustrating what would befall this evil generation which had rejected His grace:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through dry places in search of a resting place, and finds ‘none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left’; and when he has come, he finds the place unoccupied, swept and adorned. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be with this evil generation also.”
It happened that as He was speaking a woman in the crowd cried out, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that nursed Thee.” A mother herself, perhaps, she was thinking of how proud the mother of such a wise and courageous son must be. Yet, though a mother may be justly proud of her son’s achievements, far more important than maternal pride is fidelity to God. Amending the woman’s remark, Jesus said:
“Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”
Some of the Scribes and Pharisees in the gathering now spoke up and said, “Master, we would see a sign from Thee.” Jesus replied:
“An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, and no sign shall be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. For even as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold a greater than Jonah is here.”
Meditation: The words of the woman in the crowd are an introduction to the devotion of the Church in subsequent ages to the Mother of Jesus. In her words and those of Christ, we see the double basis of that devotion. Her words concern Mary’s blood-relationship to our Lord; Christ’s words touch on Mary’s personal holiness. On these two-her maternal dignity and her incomparable holiness-has been based the Church’s veneration of Mary through the ages.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 147-148. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.