Reflecting on Mark 3:20-35
Oh, boy. Here is that controversial section from Mark’s gospel that we almost never hear because the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time almost always gets bumped by Feast Days. Easter was so early this year, however, that this rare piece from Mark is getting a hearing. Let’s be brave and jump right in.
The relatives of Jesus hear that he is in town, and they go to “seize” him because they think he is “out of his mind.” Then, when His mother and brothers and sisters arrive, Jesus looks around the circle of disciples and says, “Whoever does the will of God is my mother and brother and sister.”
Who are these siblings of Jesus? The roots of the Church’s teaching on Mary’s perpetual virginity go back all the way to the earliest Christians. An anonymous author wrote a wildly popular pamphlet called The Protoevangelium of James around 150 AD. This uncanonized booklet tells us the names of Mary’s parents (Joachim and Anna), and goes out of its way to explain that Mary took a vow of virginity as a young child.
Two centuries later another document, The History of Joseph the Carpenter, said that the “brothers and sisters” were actually the widower Joseph’s children from his earlier marriage. It needs to explain the presence of these siblings because the earliest Christians believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity. Curmudgeonly St. Jerome, of course, said “Phooey. Brothers and sisters means cousins.” End of conversation.
As to Mary coming to get Jesus, I totally get that. She knew the Cross was looming, and she was trying to buy time before that sword pierced her heart. You know your mom would do the same.
What controversial things did your mother do to keep you safe?
Kathy McGovern ©2018