Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
Jesus’ Brothers and Sisters
Mary’s question to the Angel, like most of the references of Mary in the scriptures, requires thoughtful meditation to discover the depth of its meaning. This scripture also requires of us another explanation as to the meaning of passages that identify brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Aramaic words for brother and sister also means first cousins. The Aramaic word for cousin refers to more distant relatives. Also, since it was the practice at the time that children of brothers and sisters left orphaned would be taken in, some of Jesus' orphaned cousins could have lived with him. Either or both of these explanations could explain why the inhabitants of Nazareth would make statements about Jesus' brothers and sisters such as in Mt 13:55-56. In light of this and Mary's call to virginity it seems that whenever we read references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus we should think first cousins.
Historical fact also belies the existence of any biological brothers or sisters of Jesus who might have wanted to ascend in authority or who might have been expected to take authority after the death of their brother, Jesus. This was not the case. Also, the fact that Jesus conferred the responsibility on St. John to care for His mother Mary when faced with His imminent death on the cross (Jn 19:26-27) further demonstrates that Jesus had no other brothers or sisters who would have naturally taken responsibility to care for Mary.
Finally, it is also part of the oral Tradition of the Church that extends back beyond the written form. Pope St. Siricius, drawing on this Tradition taught it explicitly in AD 392. Authors such as St. Augustine (d. 430 AD) reminds us in their writings that Mary is a perpetual virgin and is referred to as such in sacred liturgy from ancient times. I will take more time with how Mary is a perpetual virgin later in the book.