Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fr. Antonio Royo Marin's Commentary on the Hail Mary, pt. 6: "And Blessed Is The Fruit of Thy Womb"

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb

1. Exegesis. These words of St. Elizabeth reveal their full significance in the words that immediately follow: "And from where is it that the Mother of my Lord should visit me?" (Lk 1:43). Through the internal inspiration of the Holy Ghost (cf. v. 41), St. Elizabeth knew clearly that she was in the presence of the Mother of the Lord, or the Messiah announced through the prophets, which Mary carried within her womb. Hence she humbled herself before Mary, wondering exceedingly that Mary, who was not Elizabeth's neighbor but the "Mother of the Lord," should visit her. With good reason then has an excellent contemporary exegete said that "because the Holy Ghost at this moment reveals to Elizabeth the mystery of Nazareth, it seems that she did not discover this mystery only partly but was, rather, instructed about the messianic and divine prerogatives of the Son of Mary."

2. Theology. Here is the theological commentary of St. Thomas [(Expositio salutationis angelicæ, article 3: "Blessed is the fruit of your womb"; trans. by Joseph B. Collins (New York 1939); available here:]:
The sinner often seeks for something which he does not find; but to the just man it is given to find what he seeks: “The substance of the sinner is kept for the just” [Prov 13:22]. Thus, Eve sought the fruit of the tree (of good and evil), but she did not find in it that which she sought. Everything Eve desired, however, was given to the Blessed Virgin. 
Eve sought that which the devil falsely promised her, namely, that she and Adam would be as gods, knowing good and evil. “You shall be,” says this liar, “as gods” [Gen 3:5]. But he lied, because “he is a liar and the father of lies” [Jn 8:44]. Eve was not made like God after having eaten of the fruit, but rather she was unlike God in that by her sin she withdrew from God and was driven out of paradise. The Blessed Virgin, however, and all Christians found in the Fruit of her womb Him whereby we are all united to God and are made like to Him: “When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is” [1 Jn 3:2]. 
Eve looked for pleasure in the fruit of the tree because it was good to eat. But she did not find this pleasure in it, and, on the contrary, she at once discovered she was naked and was stricken with sorrow. In the Fruit of the Blessed Virgin we find sweetness and salvation: “He who eats My flesh... has eternal life” [Jn 6:55]. 
The fruit which Eve desired was beautiful to look upon [Gen 3:6], but that Fruit of the Blessed Virgin is far more beautiful, for the Angels desire to look upon Him: “You are beautiful above the sons of men” [Ps 44:3]. He is the splendor of the glory of the Father. 
Eve, therefore, looked in vain for that which she sought in the fruit of the tree, just as the sinner is disappointed in his sins. We must seek in the Fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary whatsoever we desire. This is He who is the Fruit blessed by God, who has filled Him with every grace, which in turn is poured out upon us who adore Him: “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in Christ” [Eph 1:3]. He, too, is revered by the Angels: “Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength, to our God” [Rev 7:12]. And He is glorified by men: “Every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” [Phil 2:11]. The Blessed Virgin is indeed blessed, but far more blessed is the Fruit of her womb: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” [Ps 117:26].
Let us listen now to the commentary of St. Bernard (Hom. 3 in laud. Virg. Mat., n. 5-6):
"Blessed are you among women." To these words, which St. Elizabeth spoke, we ought to add: "And blessed is the fruit of your womb." It is not because you are blessed that the fruit of your womb is blessed as well, but because He has come to you with the blessings of sweetness, you are therefore blessed. Truly is the fruit of your womb blessed, for in Him shall all nations be blessed; and from His fullness you also have received as we have as well but you in a way far more excellent than we. Thus not without reason are you blessed, blessed among women; further blessed is He, though not among men, nor angels precisely, but as the Apostle says, "above all things, God blessed for ever" (Rom 9:6). We usually speak of blessed men, blessed women, blessed earth, and to speak of other creatures which we know to have received a blessing, but singularly blessed is the fruit of your womb, being He Who is above all things, God blessed for ever. 
Blessed, then, is the fruit of your womb. Blessed in His fragrance, blessed in His savor, blessed in His beauty
a) It is the fragrance of this sweet-smelling fruit of which it has been said [by Isaac]: "This is the odor of my son as of a field blessed to the full by the Lord" (Gen 27:27). Is He not truly blessed to whom the Lord has bestowed His blessings? 
b) Of the savor of this fruit, one who has tasted it would say: "Taste and see how sweet is the Lord" (Ps 33:9); and in another place: "How great, O Lord, is the abundance of Your sweetness, which you have hidden and reserved for those who fear You!" (Ps 30:20). And in another place as well: "If you could only taste and see how sweet the Lord is" (1 Pet 2:3). The Fruit Himself spoke of Himself, inviting all: "Those who eat Me shall hunger even more, and those who drink Me shall thirst even more" (Sir 24:29). He was speaking of the sweetness of His savor, which when tasted excites the appetite even further. This good fruit is food and drink in this life for souls who hunger and thirst for righteousness and sanctity. 
c) You have heard of His odor, of his savor. Listen also regarding His beauty. For if it is true that the fruit of death was not only sweet to eat but also, according to the testimony of Scripture, agreeable to behold, how much more ought to be the vivifying beauty of this living fruit, upon which, as Scripture equally testifies, the angels desired to look? Contemplating this beauty in spirit and desiring to see the same in the flesh the psalmist has said: "Out of Sion comes the splendor of His beauty" (Ps 49:2). And so that you may not think that he was praising some merely ordinary beauty, remember what you have heard written in another psalm: "You surpass the beauty of all the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; thus God has blessed you for ever" (Ps 44:3).

Source: Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, La Virgen María, trans. by R. Grablin (Madrid, Spain: BAC, 1996), 453-455.

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