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 didn’t 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.
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, 11:27).
other words, the woman is calling the Lord’s mother a blessed
person, thus verifying the Virgin’s prophecy pertaining to
“Behold, for from now on, all generations shall call
blessed” (Luke 1:48).
The Lord responds to this woman’s
enthusiasm, with the phrase:
μακάριοι οι ακούοντες τον λόγον του Θεού και φυλάσσοντες αυτόν»
“Indeed - but blessed are they 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:
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 “ΜΕΝΟΥΝΓΕ”
(men-oon-yeh) inferring “blessed
rather”, as pertaining to those who
preserve the divine word and not to the Holy Mother, is
I believe the
error lies in the careless translation of the very first word
of this sentence, which is a composite word: the particle “ΜΕΝΟΥΝΓΕ”
(men-oon-yeh). What is its significance? According to the
dictionaries, this particle is comprised of three different
words: the oppositional particle “ΜΕΝ”
(men = rather), the conclusive particle “ΟΥΝ”
(oon = therefore) and the certifying particle “ΓΕ”
(ye = certainly). In composite form, these words do not maintain
their initial significance. The fragment “ΜΕΝΟΥΝΓΕ”
(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 “ΓΕ”
(ye = certainly) intensifies the meaning of the word to which it
Thus, the specific tract of the New Testament, could
be seen as equivalent to the modern Greek expressions of “indeed”,
It is remarkable how, this same composite word “ΜΕΝΟΥΝΓΕ”
(men-oon-yeh) is mentioned in three other tracts of the New
Testament, with the same connotation:
20 μενοῦνγε, ὦ ἄνθρωπε, σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ
ἀνταποκρινόμενος τῷ Θεῷ;"
"Indeed, o man, who are you, that talks
back to God?
εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν,
to all the earth has their word gone forth...
"8 αλλά μενοῦνγε
καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς
γνώσεως Χριστοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ τοῦ Κυρίου μου,
I believe that all things are losses, because
the superiority in knowing Christ Jesus my Lord"
In each of these instances, this word
confirms the significance of the preceding sentence and
intensifies its meaning.
To confine myself
to Luke 11:27-28 and the text that gave rise to the present
27 ᾿Εγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ λέγειν αὐτὸν ταῦτα ἐπάρασά τις γυνὴ
φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου εἶπεν αὐτῷ· μακαρία ἡ κοιλία ἡ βαστάσασά
σε καὶ μαστοὶ οὓς ἐθήλασας. 28 αὐτὸς δὲ εἶπε· μενοῦνγε
μακάριοι οἱ ἀκούοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ φυλάσσοντες
27 And it happened,
as He was saying these things, that a certain woman from the
crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the
womb that bore You, and the breasts
that You suckled!”
28 And He said, “Indeed
(that is so); but also blessed are they
who hear the word of God and guard it!”
In response to the
anonymous woman’s display of
enthusiasm, the Lord begins His reply with this word “ΜΕΝΟΥΝΓΕ”
(men-oon-yeh), not for the purpose of denying or diminishing
that woman's respect 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).
Lord was saying that He fully agrees and accepts as sincere
the popular expression of respect towards His mother. And, with what
He says after that, He aspires to
leading his audience’s thoughts to another noble thought. 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 also 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 His birth would have been of no benefit
to the Holy Mother, if She hadn’t indeed been
wholly 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, speaking in the Temple they announced to Him that His mother and brothers
were asking for Him and He replied “My mother and my brothers
are (all) those who listen to the word of God and obey it (Luke 8:21, Matthew 12:48-50, Mark 3:34-35).
The blessed status of
the Virgin and Her highest glory are attributed to the fact that
She was chosen before the ages by God to become the "flesh mother" of the Lord
because She remained the eternal guardian of the divine Lord.
She herself had opened Her soul and submitted herself to Him: “Behold,
the handmaiden of the Lord” (Luke 1:35),
while Elisabeth, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, blessed the
Holy Mother for Her trust in God's words (during the
Annunciation through the Archangel Gabriel) :
is She who has believed that it is the fulfilment of the
things that were told to Her by God" (Luke 1:45).