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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Reflecting on Mark 6: 1-6a

Is he not…the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  Are not his sisters here with us?

St. Jerome in his study

Huh?  How can Jesus have brothers and sisters?  Doesn’t the doctrine of the Church state that Mary was a perpetual virgin?

That’s a great question, and the answer is fascinating.  There are thirteen references to the “brothers and sisters of the Lord” in the New Testament.  St. Paul and all four Gospel writers mention these brethren as if everyone knows who they are, and that it’s common knowledge that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

This was a problem right away, at least as early as 150 A.D., because a grassroots sense that Mary had remained a perpetual virgin began to emerge (although this is never mentioned in Scripture).  How to reconcile Scripture with an emerging tradition?

Someone wrote a second century page-turner called The Protoevangelium of James.  In this wildly popular book the author (posing as James, the brother of Lord) tells us all kinds of things that the brief and elusive scripture references to Mary never do.  It’s here that we learn her parents’ names−−Joachim and Anna—and that Anna consecrated her child as a perpetual virgin while Mary (Miriam) was still in the womb.

It goes on to say that Joseph (a widower) respected her status and married her when she twelve years old, fully embracing a celibate marriage.  And then the apocryphal (never canonized) writings, especially The History of Joseph the Carpenter, go crazy with stories about Joseph and his children from his first marriage.  Whew!  Mystery solved.

Except, as St. Jerome pointed out in the fourth century, “brothers” means “cousins” in Aramaic.

How do you feel about the tradition of Mary having “step-children”?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Ordinary Time - Cycle B

3 Comments to “Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B”

  1. Family is family. Just the other day I was trying to introduce the daughter of my niece and kept stumbling over how she was related since my niece is my age and feels more like a sister-in-law and therefore her daughter feels more like a niece….anyway you get the picture. Isn’t it wonderful that we are all family on this earth. We should treat each other with all the dignity and love that entails shouldn’t we.

    Blessings to all

  2. While it’s been a looong long time since I’ve been near a computer to read or write in on these wonderful readiings. I’m glad this is the one I have been blessed visit. I think that we ought to calm down and stop trying to disprove the teachings of the Catholic Faith. I believe that Mary was, is, and always well be a Virgin! She has told many people that she has appeared to that she is The Virgin Mother of God. But this is the issue in our time we want to prove everything, we want to know everything. And that fine for science but Faith is just not as easy to prove. If Joseph had sons and daughters from a former marriage. Then that really has no ties to who Jesus is. Joseph was his foster father, God is his Father and Mary through Jesus is everyone’s Mother, isn’t Jesus our brother and Savior? We are all of one Bpdy in Christ at least that how I learned being a member of the Church is. I wonder sometimes if the scandle sheets are why this generation is so obsessed about the Virginity of Mary and for that matter Jesus, as I remember the lies brought up by movies a few years ago. We can’t just enjoy our Faith or our entertainment in these days, We have to know every detail of other peoples lives. Jesus was a public person and never held his tongue and Joseph was thier protecter He excepted the duty to protect our Mother and our Lord with a loving heart. So why make that whole beautiful calling of this couple questionable? Cousins, Friends, or siblings. Jesus was one of a kind Son of God and son of Mary.

  3. barbarawatson825@comcast.net

    It makes sense for Mary to have step-children. I think it is fascinating to hear about the books written during the early days of the church. I wonder how an author would get copies out on a “best-seller” in those days?

    Thinking of you and hope to stop in the store this week :>)

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