Monday, July 19, 2010

Gospel for Tuesday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr

From: Matthew 12:46-50

The True Kinsmen of Jesus

[46] While He (Jesus) was still speaking to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood outside, asking to speak to Him.* [48] But He replied to the man who told Him, "Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?" [49] And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Here are My and My brethren! [50] For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother, and sister and mother."

(*Other ancient authorities insert verse 47, "Some one told Him, 'Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to You.'")

46-47. "Brethren": ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages had no special words for different degrees of relationship, such as are found in more modern languages. In general, all those belonging to the same family, clan and even tribe were "brethren".

In the particular case we have here, we should bear in mind that Jesus had different kinds of relatives, in two groups--some on His mother's side, others on St. Joseph's. Matthew 13:55-56 mentions, as living in Nazareth, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas ("His brethren") and elsewhere there is reference to Jesus' "sisters" (cf. Matthew 6:3). But in Matthew 27:56 we are told that James and Joseph were sons of a Mary distinct from the Blessed Virgin, and that Simon and Judas were not brothers of James and Joseph, but seemingly children of a brother of St. Joseph.

Jesus, on the other hand, was known to everyone as "the son of Mary" (Mark 6:3) or "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55).

The Church has always maintained as absolutely certain that Jesus had no brothers or sisters in the full meaning of the term: it is a dogma that Mary was ever-Virgin (cf. note on Matthew 1:25).

48-50. Jesus obviously loved His Mother and St. Joseph. He uses this episode to teach us that in His Kingdom human ties do not take precedence. In Luke 8:19 the same teaching is to be found. Jesus regards the person who does the will of His Heavenly Father as a member of His own family. Therefore, even though it means going against natural family feelings, a person should do just that when needs be in order to perform the mission the Father has entrusted to him (cf. Luke 2:49).

We can say that Jesus loved Mary more because of the bonds between them created by grace than because He was her son by natural generation: Mary's divine motherhood is the source of all our Lady's other prerogatives; but this very motherhood is, in its turn, the first and greatest of the graces with which Mary was endowed.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

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