HOMILY THEME: The Mother and the Brothers of Jesus Christ.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu


HOMILY“And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.’” (Mark 3:34-35)

Some time ago, I got involved in an argument with a non-Catholic who tried to prove to me that our devotion to Mary is wrong and unbiblical. To his defence, he quoted our Gospel passage this morning saying that, first, Jesus had brothers and sisters and secondly, that Jesus ignored his mother and his brothers just to teach us how unimportant they were.

Is it true that Mary, the mother of Jesus is not “blessed ever-virgin?”? Did Mary have other children through the natural process of procreation with Joseph? In truth, Mary never had any children apart from Jesus. She was perpetually a virgin all through her life. She remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus. How do we know this? First, at the foot of the cross, we hear Jesus saying to Mary, “Woman, behold your son” and to the beloved disciple, Jesus said: “Behold your Mother.” (John 19:26). If Mary really had other children, why was there a need for Jesus to entrust her to one of his disciples?

Secondly, recall that when the Angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a son, Mary responded saying: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). From research, we have come to understand that this response of Mary was as a result of the vow of perpetual virginity she had taken. According to the Protoevangelium of James (one of the books that did not make it to the Bible), Mary’s Mother had pledged Mary as a “virgin of the Lord” in the service of the Temple and that Joseph was widower to whom Mary was entrusted to be her guardian. Even the fact that nothing was heard about Joseph in the Bible indicates that he was by far older than Mary and probably died when Jesus was still a kid.

So how do we explain these “brothers” who came with Mary to see Jesus? Given that the word “brother” was often used in Scripture to refer to relatives (e.g. Genesis 14:14, 29:15), close friends (2 Samuel 1:26, 1 Kings 9:13) or even allies (Amos 1:9), we would not be out of place to say they were extended family members, neighbours or friends

Having established the fact that Mary never had other children, the next question we now ask is: “Why did Jesus refuse to honour them by leaving the crowd so as to attend to them?” Does it mean that Jesus has no respect for them? Definitely not. First, note that, this event is similar to what happened when Jesus stayed behind in the temple and when Mary asked him why, he said: “Am I not supposed to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

His mother and brothers were standing outside refusing to come in (like the elder brother of the prodigal son). They wanted Jesus to leave the crowd behind and come with them because they were hearing stories that Jesus was so busy with the work that he did not even have time to eat; they felt Jesus was sacrificing too much. They wanted to bring him back to sanity; to make him normal again because they loved him.

Jesus, being such a good teacher who loved to pass across his message using graphic illustrations, parables and examples seized the occasion to teach a powerful lesson: that He values those of us who hear His word and practice it because by so doing, we become engrafted into his family and therefore, deserving of his respect and attention as well.

By his action, Jesus did not say Mary is not important, (His respect for Mary cannot be doubted with the incidence at the wedding feast at Cana), Jesus meant to say that You too are important for hearing and doing the will of God.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, make me more and more worthy of admittance into your special family. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Hebrews 10:1-10, Psalm 40 and Mark 3:22-30).

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