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Path To Sunday

14th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Mark 6:3

"The carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon,"

Readings for Sunday: Ezekiel, 2nd Corinthians, Mark


Reflecting on Mark 6:1-6, where Jesus is called “the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon,” prompts an exploration of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Protestants often use this passage to question the Catholic belief. However, the Annunciation in Luke 1 provides insight. When the angel Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive Jesus, she responds, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” This response suggests her vow of perpetual virginity, despite being betrothed to Joseph.

In Aramaic and Hebrew, there was no specific word for “cousin,” so “brother” was commonly used for various relatives. This linguistic nuance clarifies why Jesus’ relatives are called “brothers” in the Gospels.

Historical and scriptural evidence, including the belief held by early Protestant reformers like Luther, supports the idea that Mary remained a virgin. The cultural and linguistic context of the time shows that Jesus’ “brothers” were likely his cousins, not biological siblings.

Thus, understanding the terminology and cultural practices of the period reaffirms the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity and her unique role in salvation history.

Reflection Questions

  • How does understanding the cultural context of Jesus’ time deepen your appreciation of Mary’s perpetual virginity?
  • What impact does Mary’s response to the angel have on your own faith journey?
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