From the Pastor's Desk
The readings for today, the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, give the name “sin” to our offenses against God. When we sin -- violate God’s Commandments -- we distance ourselves from Him; when we refuse, or fear, to admit our sins, we deny ourselves God’s freely offered pardon and forgiveness.
Scripture lessons: In describing Adam and Eve’s first sin, disobedience, our first reading, taken from Genesis, explains the beginning of evil in the world with its destructive results. The loving relationship joining man to God is destroyed, and the relationship of mutual love between Adam and Eve is weakened. Their default to a “blame game” allowed each to avoid taking personal responsibility for their joint choice.
In the second reading, Paul declares to the Corinthians that the many adversities of his missionary work were God’s plan for his spiritual growth; his sufferings, offered with Jesus for the Salvation of the world, would result a glorious reward for him and for all believers who did the same.
Today’s Gospel passage reveals how Jesus himself was misunderstood by his own relatives and was criticized, slandered and rejected by the Sanhedrin-led scribes and Pharisees. His sufferings for us give us courage and his offer of healing, strength and forgiveness, so that we can do as he did when we face unfair treatment and criticism in our lives.
Life messages: 1) Today’s Scriptures challenge us to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Very often our friends, families, or childhood companions fail to listen to us and refuse to accept the words of grace, love and encouragement that we offer to them because they are too familiar with us. But we have to face such rejection with prophetic courage because by our Baptism we are called to be prophets like Jesus, sharing his prophetic mission. As prophets, our task is to speak the truth and oppose the evils in our society without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior even in our dear ones.
2) We need to have the courage of our convictions: Modern “liberal-minded” people may find genuine Christians’ belief in and practice of Christ’s ideas and ideals crazy too. Hence, what is needed in a Christian is the courage of his or her convictions based on the authority of Jesus as God and the truth of his doctrines.
3) We need to live as members of God’s family: Let us remember that by Baptism we become the children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus and members of the Heavenly family of the Triune God. Hence, let us observe our obligations of treating others with love and respect and of sharing our love with them in corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We are also His disciples, and so are obliged to be hearers as well as doers of the word of God. Let us keep our souls daily cleansed and filled with the Spirit of God, leaving no space for the evil spirit to enter our souls.
Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Catholic Church teaches that Jesus did not have blood brothers and sisters. The problem arises because we read in Mark about the crowd asking, "Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters our neighbors here?" (Mk 6:3). A similar reference occurs earlier in Mk 3:31 — "His mother and brothers arrived...." At first hearing, the words seem to state that Jesus did indeed have blood brothers and sisters. But the Greek word adelphos, was used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or step-brother. The word also described other relationships like cousins, nephews, etc. For example, in Genesis 13:8 and 14:14-16, the word adelphos was used to describe the relationship between Abraham and his nephew Lot and the relation between Laban and his nephew Jacob.
In the Gospel, Mary of Clopas is called "the sister" of Mary, the Mother of Jesus where sister means only a cousin. In Hebrew and Aramaic languages, no special word existed for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or step-brother. So, they used the word brother in all these cases. The Greek translation of the Hebrew texts used the word adelphos. In addition, other Gospel passages clarify these relationships between James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. James the Less and Joses were the sons of Mary the wife of Clopas (Mk 15:40, Jn 19:25), and James the Less was also identified as "the son of Alphaeus" (Lk 6:15), a synonym of “Clopas." James the Greater and John were the sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20ff). After the birth of our Lord, although the Gospels do not give us many details of Jesus’ childhood, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having other children. Never does it refer to the "sons of Mary" or "a son of Mary," but only the son of Mary. By this time, St. Joseph has died. Since Jesus, the first-born, had no "blood brother," when He was hanging on the cross, He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. Interestingly, the Orthodox Churches solve this problem over brothers and sisters by speculating that St. Joseph was an elderly widower who had other children before he married Mary. The earliest explanation of who the brothers and sisters were, found in the second-century document known as The Protoevagelium of James, is that they were stepbrothers through Joseph. According to this document, Joseph was an elderly widower who agreed to become the guardian of Mary, a consecrated virgin. Being elderly and already having children, he was not seeking to raise a new family and so was an appropriate guardian for a virgin. This theory is consistent with Joseph’s apparent death before the ministry of Jesus. It is the standard explanation in Eastern Christendom of who the brethren of Christ are. Shortly before the year 400, St. Jerome began to popularize the view that the brethren of Christ were cousins, and this view became common in the West. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has faithfully taught that Mary gave birth only to Jesus, whom she had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit