When you give ear to the saying of that woman: Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breast which thou hast sucked: and to the Lord's reply: Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it: think not that he made this observation as slighting his Mother, but as wishing to shew that it would profit her nothing to be called his Mother, unless she excelled in goodness and faith. Now, if a mother's love would avail Mary nothing without virtue, much less will it avail us to be a good father, brother, mother, or son, unless we are good in ourselves.
For indeed, salvation for anyone, apart from the divine grace, is to be hoped for in nothing else but his own virtues. For if her kinship in itself could have profited Mary, it would also have profited the Jews, for Christ was their kinsman according to the flesh; it would have profited the city in which he was born; it would have profited his brethren. Yet as long as his brethren cared only for their own interests, their relationship to Christ profited them nothing, but they were condemned with the rest of the world.
Then only did they begin to be worthy of admiration, when they shone by their own virtue. His native land, indeed, having gained nothing from its own connection with him, fell and was burnt by fire; his fellow-citizens were put to death and perished miserably; his kindred according to the flesh gained nothing towards their salvation; insofar as all these lacked the protection of virtue. But of them all, the Apostles became the most renowned, since by obedience they joined themselves to him in a right and desirable friendship and companionship. From this we learn, that we always have need of faith, and a life shining with virtues; since this alone will have power to save us.