“Ask a Priest: Why does Jesus address his Mother as ‘woman’ in Scripture?”

Want to rate this?

Q: At least twice in Scripture Christ calls his own mother “woman”: once at the wedding at Cana and again at the foot of the cross. That would normally be noted as being rude, disrespectful, and I wonder how that made Mary feel. Never in Scripture does he call her “mom.” -C.L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Indeed, to modern ears Jesus’ addressing Mary as “woman” sounds a bit cold. But in Aramaic, the language in which Our Lord spoke, it was actually a term of respect — a normal, polite form of address, as the New American Bible observes in a footnote to John 2:4.

Jesus refers to his Mother in the same way from the cross (“Woman, behold, your son” — John 19:26). That context certainly shows the Jesus meant no disrespect for his beloved Mother, since he wanted to make sure that his beloved disciple would look after Mary after Our Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.

The use of “woman” also recalls the language of Genesis 2:22-23 and the first woman in the world. Christian tradition refers to Mary as the new Eve, the mother of all the living. That recalls Mary’s exalted status in the Church and in the history of salvation as the Mother of the Redeemer. Thanks for your question and the opportunity to clarify a key Marian point. God bless.

Got a question? Need an answer?

Today’s secular world throws curve balls at us all the time. AskACatholicPriest is a Q&A feature that anyone can use. Just type your question HERE and you will get a personal response back from one of our priests at RCSpirituality. You can ask about anything – liturgy, prayer, moral questions, current events… Our goal is simply to provide a trustworthy forum for dependable Catholic guidance and information. So go ahead and ask your question…

Average Rating

What did you think?

Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.

  1. Very simply put, there is no scripture that supports praying too, idolizing of..(shrines of figurines or images of)… to bow down and pray to, of Mary, Jesus’s birth mother. As a matter of fact, He refers to (The woman at the well) with the same address. Dear woman! Because He created her. Think about it. This is why Jesus never shows the blood line relationship with anyone that was on earth. When Jesus was lost for three days as a child His mother basically asked Him where He was and His reply (In Luke 2: verse 49) shoulden’t you have known I was in my Fathers house? Think about it, how can Jesus EVER be lost. He is God, the son. For Him to call a woman mother means she would have been there since the beginning of time just like His Father. All Christians in this age should have the maturity to understand this. These types of wrong information leaves Catholics having to explain themselves to Christ come the day one is accountable. Simply pleading to Christ…..but thats the way Catholics do it without biblical proof can be a very dangerous thing. Catholics are good at searching scripture to find something usually out of context to justify their agenda. I was a Catholic for 30 years until I was BORN AGAIN and found Jesus as my personal savior because something BIG was missing amoungst all the religion and Days of obligation! I feel my calling for 15 years was bringing contemporary christian worship to Catholic churches nationwide and our family of four have been doing it by the grace of God, it is spreading, and it is fullfilling. People are waking up in church to the power of the Holy Spirit in them. Please, I ask you to always use scripture for proofing information and not let old time tradition and Religion stop you from being ALL you can be in Christ. There will be many people full of tradition and some of the most religious people standing in front of Christ one day and He will say….I never new you! He is NEVER finished with us until He calls us home. God Bless.

  2. One does not need an intercessor to speak to Jesus! When you have a personal relationship with Him you can pray too Him otherwise you deminish what Christ did on the cross for you!! Mary was a dear woman to Him and nothing else. There is no scripture that prooves anything else, but to the contrary of.

Leave a Reply

Get the Answers!

Get notified of future Ask a Priest answers via email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Skip to content