The Brothers of the Lord

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Today’s reflection will actually be a bit more than 60 seconds. In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 12, the “brothers of the Lord” are mentioned. Many will use this passage to refute the Catholic belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity. To help, I want to share a chapter from A Minute in the Church that addresses this.

Mary – Perpetual Virginity/Brothers of the Lord

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a perpetual virgin; that she never had any children other than Jesus. But many non-Catholics dispute that, pointing to verses in the scriptures that refer to “the brothers of the Lord.”

In the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, which Jesus and his disciples spoke, there was no specific word for “cousin.” And so the word that they used for brother often had a much broader meaning, more along the line of “kinsman.”

The Catechism number 500 addresses this directly, pointing out that two of the men referred to as Jesus’ brothers in Matthew 13:55 are actually sons of “another Mary.” Additionally, if Jesus had brothers, then why would He have given His Mother to the Apostle John at the foot of the cross, as we see in John 19:26 and 27? In the ancient Hebrew culture, if a son died who was caring for his mother because the father in the family had already died, the care of the mother was passed along to the next male sibling. Why would Jesus, a devout Jew, ignore these family ties and give his Mother to a non-family member? The answer, of course, is that He had no blood brothers.

For further study:
CCC 499-500
Matthew 27:56
John 19:26-27

Today's Readings

Get all four of the books in the A Minute in the Church series at


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