14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The Gospel passage that we have just heard proclaimed, is one that is often used by Protestants to argue against the Catholic Church’s constant Teaching that Our Blessed Mother had other children, after the birth of Jesus.

The first thing to remember is that the Bible was not originally written in English; it was written in Hebrew.  Translations are always a difficult thing to deal with.  A particular difficulty with the ancient Hebrew language is that there was only one word that meant “brother”, “cousin”, and “near-relative”.  This can be proven from other biblical texts.  For example: In Genesis 11 we hear that Lot is the nephew of Abraham.  In Genesis 14 we hear that Lot is called Abraham’s “brother”.  The Jews used the word “brother” for any near relative, without necessarily meaning “blood-brothers.”

A New Testament example of this same issue can be found by examining two Gospel passages: Matthew 27 and Mark 15.  These two passages show us clearly that James and Joseph, who are identified as “brothers of the Lord” are sons of another Mary; not the Mother of Jesus.  The 19th chapter of the Gospel of John identifies this Mary as “the wife of Clopas”.  Remember also: the “brothers” of Jesus are never called “sons of Mary”.  Furthermore, Jesus is often referred to as the son of Mary, but never as a son of Mary as if He had siblings.

Another strong proof can be found at the foot of Cross.  Jesus entrusts His Mother to Saint John: “Woman, behold your son; son behold your Mother.”  Why would Jesus entrust His Mother to someone to whom He is not related if He had other siblings who would have taken care of Her?

Besides these proofs from Scripture, there is also the powerful testimony of Tradition.  The Early Christian writers all defend Mary’s perpetual virginity in their writings, right from the earliest centuries.  Some of the greatest names in the Church after the time of the Apostles held and defended this truth.  The fact that Mary was perpetually a virgin was universally held; even the first Protestant reformers, Luther Calvin and Zwingli, upheld the doctrine.  For almost 1600 years this truth was uncontested.

Now that we have clarified the objections to the passage, it is important to look at what the passage means for us today.  The Holy Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Gospels faithfully record and hand on to us the things that Jesus said and did.  There are not any wasted words in the Scriptures.  Every single even is meant to convey something to us.  The Holy Spirit continues to speak to us today through the Scriptures.  We have to ask ourselves: “What is the Lord trying to say to me through this passage?”

In the Gospel passage, we hear that Jesus went to His hometown and that there, among those He grew up with, He was amazed because of their lack of faith.  Those who grew up with Jesus didn’t appreciate the Lord in their own midst.  They took Him for granted.  They thought that they knew Him.  He set aside the glory that He had from all eternity with the Father in Heaven and became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the working of the Holy Spirit.  He was fully divine and yet fully human.  He was like us in all things except for sin.  He was so much like us, that those who grew up with Him could not recognize His divinity.

When we get into a routine, it is easy to take that routine for granted.  It is easy to come to Mass every Sunday out of habit.  Do we ever stop to think about Who it is that we are coming to Church to receive?  Are we appreciative of the great gifts that God has given to us in our Catholic Faith and in the Eucharist?  It is easy to take the faith or the Mass or the Eucharist for granted.  Our God has given us a very special gift; we need to remind ourselves of what a great gift we have so that we can more fully appreciate it.

God sent His only Son to die on a Cross in order to save us from our sins.  Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself; He poured out every last drop of His precious blood upon the Cross and even that wasn’t enough.  He gives Himself to us as food at every Mass in the Holy Eucharist, in order to be more closely united to us.

When we come to Mass, we should take a moment to reflect upon the great gift that Our Lord gives to us.  Mass is a gift from the Lord.  Let us try to be always mindful of that gift and recognize the Lord, Who gives Himself to us in Holy Communion.

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