Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 10:1-10; Mark 3:31-35)
Catholics and Protestants have long tried to prove one another wrong on matters of doctrine. The perpetual virginity of Mary is a particularly contentious debating point. The Church has declared that Mary remained a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus. Protestants often use today’s gospel passage as a proof text that Mary had other children besides Jesus.
The passage speaks of Jesus’ mother and brothers coming to see Jesus. It shows Jesus gesturing at his disciples and calling them his “mother and (my) brothers.” The scene leaves a sense of the remarkably close relationship Jesus has developed with those who follow him. It may not be complimentary to Jesus’ family, but it does not show Jesus renouncing them either.
Biblical experts tell us that Mary’s virginity is not addressed in the New Testament. They say that the names of Jesus’ brothers given later in Mark (James, Joses, Siman, and Judas) are plausibly the sons of the Mary who is pictured with Mary Magdalene and Salome at the cross with Jesus. Thus, these “brothers” may very well have a more distant affiliation with Jesus than a sibling relationship. In any case we are wise not to be querulous about the issue. Rather, there is reason to rejoice in the possibility of joining with Jesus’ disciples as his “mother and (my) brothers.”