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Examine Scripture

Mark 3:31-35

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Jesus’ Mother and Brothers…

Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you.”

But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and (my) brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. (For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  -Mark 3:31-35, NAB

As a site dedicated to teaching those searching the Catholic faith for the first time, I thought that it was important to address this verse.  While I am not the world’s leading theological expert, I hope that I can shed some light on the topic.

Did Jesus have any brothers or sisters?  Many Protestants that rely on very literal interpretations of Scripture say yes.  If we want to use the literal translation of this verse, and indeed we should in this case, we must understand what the word meant to the writer.  At the time of Christ, this word for brothers or brethren could also refer to step-brothers, step-sisters, cousins, and other relatives.  So, translating today’s verse literally does not mean that Jesus had brothers.

While I could do my best to explain this further, I want to point you to a resource from Catholic Answers with an imprimatur:  Mary: Ever Virgin.

While we could debate whether or not Jesus had brothers and sisters for hours, what is most amazing about this verse is Christ’s love for His followers.  What do I mean by that?  Well, Christ’s most beloved mother, as well as His brethren, came to see Him, but instead of dropping what He was doing, He continued on.

What significance does this have?  It shows that Christ placed His spiritual family above His earthly family.  Of course, Christ loved His family with all of His heart, but He loves His spiritual family even more.  He loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His earthly life for our spiritual lives’ sake.

Let us always remember the importance of our spiritual family, and may we show them even greater love than the love for our earthly relatives.  Family is important, but the Church is even more important.

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