If you consider of whom she is the mother, how great will be your admiration of her exalted dignity! Do you feel as if you can never sufficiently praise it? Do you not judge, and rightly, that she who has the God-man for her Son is exalted in greatness above all the choirs of angels? Did not Mary confidently call the God and Lord of Angels her Son, saying: “Son, why hast thou done so to us” Which of the angels would have presumed thus to speak? It is sufficient for them and something great, that while by nature they are spirits by grace they are made and called angels, as David says: “Who maketh his angels spirits.” In confidently calling God her Son, Mary acknowledges herself mother of that Majesty Whom those angels serve with reverential awe. Neither does God disdain to be called what He vouchsafed to be. For the Evangelist adds shortly after, “And he was subject to them.” Who was subject? God, to man. God to Whom the angels are subject. God, Whom the powers and principalities obey, was subject to Mary. And not only to Mary, but to Joseph also for Mary s sake. Consider, then, and choose which you will most admire, the gracious condescension of the Son, or the surpassing dignity of the mother. Both are amazing; both are miraculous. That a God should obey a woman is humility without example; that a woman should command the Son of God is a dignity without parallel. In the praise of virgins we hear that wonderful verse: “They shall follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” But what praise, think you, is worthy of her who leads the way before Him ? Learn, O man, to obey ; learn, O earth, to be subject; learn, O dust, to be submissive. The Evangelist, speaking of your Creator, says: “He was subject to them” that is, of course, to Mary and Joseph. Blush, O dust and ashes, and be ashamed to be proud. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt your self ? God submits to man, and do you desire to domineer over your fellow-man? (St Bernard of Clairvaux, De Laudibus)
O si et cujus est mater attendas! quo te tua super ejus mirabili celsitudine ducet admiratio? Nonne ad hoc, ut te videas nec satis posse mirari? Nonne tuo, imo Veritatis judicio, illa quae Deum habuit filium, super omnes etiam choros exaltabitur angelorum? Annon Deum et Dominum angelorum Maria suum audacter appellat filium, dicens: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? (Luc. II, 48.) Quis hoc audeat angelorum? Sufficit eis, et pro magno habent, quod cum sint spiritus ex conditione, ex gratia facti sunt et vocati angeli, testante David: Qui facit, inquit, angelos suos spiritus (Psal. CIII, 4). Maria vero matrem se agnoscens, majestatem illam, cui illi cum reverentia serviunt, cum fiducia suum nuncupat filium. Nec dedignatur nuncupari Deus quod esse dignatus est. Nam paulo post subdit evangelista: Et erat, inquiens, subditus illis (Luc. II, 51). Quis, quibus? Deus hominibus, Deus, inquam, cui angeli subditi sunt, cui principatus et potestates obediunt, subditus erat Mariae, nec tantum Mariae, sed etiam Joseph propter Mariam. Mirare ergo utrumlibet, et elige quid amplius mireris, sive Filii benignissimam dignationem, sive Matris excellentissimam dignitatem. Utrinque stupor, utrinque miraculum. Et quod Deus feminae obtemperet, humilitas absque exemplo; et quod Deo femina principetur, sublimitas sine socio. In laudibus virginum singulariter canitur, quod sequuntur Agnum quocunque ierit (Apoc. XIV, 4). Quibus ergo laudibus judicas dignam, quae etiam praeit? Disce, homo, obedire; disce, terra, subdi; disce, pulvis, obtemperare. De auctore tuo loquens evangelista, Et erat, inquit, subditus illis; haud dubium, quin Mariae et Joseph. Erubesce, superbe cinis! Deus se humiliat, et tu te exaltas? Deus se hominibus subdit, et tu dominari gestiens hominibus, tuo te praeponis auctori?