Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Essays about Orthodoxy and Protestantism

Honoring the Most Holy Mother // The brothers of Christ

The Holy Mother and the (*)


By Mr. Stergios N. Sakkos, Professor emeritus of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki.

(* pronounced:  Men-oon-yeh )

Protestantism in its majority denies the term Most Holy Mother, thus refusing to bestow on the Holy Mother the highest of honors amongst all other saints. Thus, an argument that it usually relies on is found in the verse that we shall examine here.  There is the impression that Jesus corrected a certain woman who called his mother blessed, as though He didnt want His mother to be honored. However, this verse says totally different things. So, in order to analyze this verse, we shall enlist an excerpt from the text by professor Stergios N. Sakkos, herebelow.



The incident is quite simply narrated in the Gospel of Luke. While listening to the amazing teaching of the Lord, a woman in the crowd shouted out enthusiastically: Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts that You suckled (Luke, 11/XI 27). In other words, the woman is calling the Lords mother a blessed person, thus verifying the Virgins prophecy pertaining to herself: behold, for from now on, all generations shall call me blessed (Luke 1/I 48). The Lord responds to this womans enthusiasm, with the phrase: Undoubtedly, but, blessed are those who heed the word of the Lord and preserve it (Luke II/XI  28).

... the last part of the excerpt was delivered in modern Greek as follows: Blessed rather are those who listen to the word of the Lord and preserve it. Therefore, those who listen to and preserve the divine word are more blessed than the mother of the Lord.

Naturally, no-one doubts the significance and the importance of listening to the divine word, especially when it is accompanied by its enforcement. Nevertheless, the proposed meaning of (men-oon-yeh) inferring blessed rather, to pertain to those who preserve the divine word and not to the Holy Mother, is incorrect.

I believe that the error lies in the slip in the translation of the very first word of this sentence, which is a composite word: the particle (men-oon-yeh).  What is its significance?  According to the dictionaries, this particle is comprised of three different words:  the oppositional particle (men = rather), the conclusive particle (oon = therefore) and the certifying particle (ye = certainly). In composite form, these words do not maintain their initial significance. The fragment (men-oon-ye) is usually used at the beginning of a reply; at times, it can be used as a weighty verification and it can also be used as a certification that somehow corrects and supplements the significance of those words that precede it. The particle (ye = certainly) intensifies the meaning of the word to which it is annexed. Thus, the specific tract of the New Testament, could be seen as equivalent to the modern Greek expressions of indeed, yes, of course, most certainly!.  It is remarkable how, this same composite word (men-oon-yeh) is mentioned in three other tracts of the New Testament, with the same connotation: Romans 9/IX 19 and 10/X 18, Philippians 3/III 8.  In each of these instances, this word confirms the significance of the preceding sentence and intensifies its meaning.

To confine myself to Luke 11/XI 28 and the verse that gave rise to this commentary:  The Lord on replying to the womans display of enthusiasm- begins with this word (men-oon-yeh),  not for the purpose of denying or diminishing her admiration towards His mother: He does not deny the natural kinship, but only adds to it the kinship of virtue, comments saint John the Chrysostom (On Matthew, 45,1). The Lord wants to say that He fully agrees and accepts as sincere the popular expression of admiration towards His mother. And furthermore, with what he says further down, He aspires to leading his audiences thoughts to something nobler. The meaning of His words is: Yes! Of course! Certainly! My mother is blessed as you say, but I say to you that blessed is the one who heeds my divine word and preserves it.

These words of the Lord says Saint John the Chrysostom do not indicate that He is repulsing His mother; they are stressing that this birth would have been of no benefit to the Holy Mother, if she hadnt also been very pure and faithful (On John, 21,3). Thus, the Lord is encouraging the woman into hoping that she too like every Christian can become blessed just like His mother, if she heeds His word and preserves it. Another similar response by Jesus bears the same meaning, when, as He spoke, they announced to Him that His mother and brothers were asking for Him and He replied My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the word of God and obey it (Luke 8/VIII 21, Matthew 12/XII 48-50, Mark 3/III 34-35)

The blessedness of the Virgin and her utmost glory are attributed to the fact that she was selected to become the mother of the Lord, precisely because she remained the eternal guardian of the divine Lord. She herself opens her soul and submits herself to Him: Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord (Luke 1/I 45).




Translation by A.N.

Greek text

Article published in English on: 5-8-2005.

Last update: 10-5-2010.