Mary's Other Children

Against the error of those who deny God’s Holy Word, by maintaining that the ever Virgin Mary did not remain a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ, True God and True Man.

By Father C.F. Devine C.SS.R.

In a dozen or so places in the New Testament certain individuals are referred to as the "brothers of Jesus," "His Brethren," His Sisters"..

St. Matthew 12:46 "His mother and His brethren...."

St. Matthew 13:55 "His brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Jude. And His sisters..."

St. Mark 3:31 "Behold thy mother and thy brethren."

St. Mark 6:3 "Is not this... the brother of James and Joseph and Jude and Simon? Are not also his sisters here with us?"

Galatians 1:19 "James the brother of the Lord."

By the time of the Protestant "Reformation," the problem of the "brethren" "sisters" of the Lord,... had been fully discussed and settled centuries before. As early as the fourth century St. Jerome had written his classical treatise "Against Helvidius." (St. Jerome and his monks of the desert, by commission of Saint Damasus the 39th Pope 00 384 A.D. translated the whole Bible into the Latin language which took him 14 years to complete.) In this work (against Helvidius) the great biblical scholar, St. Jerome, faced the problem squarely, and with keen logic,... solved every objection usually urged against Mary’s virginity. So much so,... that some recent writers have been referred to as "modern Helvidians," since they present nothing more than a rehash of the work of Helvidius, a heretic of the fourth century, and the first to question formally the perpetual virginityof Our Lady.

St. Jerome speaks against Helvidius... he answers the objections proposed one after the other; and as for the "brothers of the Lord," they were, says Jerome, cousins and not real blood brothers of Jesus.

The early Church was not given to sentiment, neither was it hesitant or doubtful but sang openly and with full voice the praises of Mary ever Virgin (aeiparthenos). Still, for many non-Catholics the belief of the early centuries is as nothing, for it must dash itself to pieces against the obstacle of the "brethren" of the Lord. This expression in the New Testament, they say, is decisive: Is it? Let us see....

A protestant preacher often says "My dear brethren..." And no one in the audience thinks that he is talking only to his blood brothers. Members of religious orders or social brotherhoods (Freemasons, Elks, etc., all call each other "brother".)

This reasoning becomes clearer when we consult Old Testament Hebrew usage. In the book of Genesis we read "Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee, and between by herdsmen and thy herdsmen: for we are brothers." (Genesis 13:8) And yet Abraham who is here speaking to Lot was not Lot’s brother, but his uncle.

Again, in Genesis 29:15, Laban says to Jacob, "Because thou art my brother, shalt thou serve me without wages?" In the context, it is clear that Laban was the uncle of Jacob, the son of Rebecca. A similar usage is noted in the book of Leviticus, Chapter 10; while in par. (1 Cron. 23:21) where we read that Eleazar died leaving no sons, "but only daughters, and the sons of sis their brothers took them,"(to wife). The "brothers" who married them were really (from the context) their cousins. We know that neither the Hebrew nor the Aramaic language possessed a word for "cousins". Rather than use an awkward circumlocution such as "the son of one’s uncle," they simply said "brother". People in the same community or general locality would easily understand what actual relationship was meant by the term "brother," for among the Hebrews especially, family lines and ties were carefully noted. In a Semitic environment (and the Scriptures were written in that environment) the expression "brethren," "brothers" o the Lord, could designate other relatives than strict blood brothers of Jesus.

In Saint John’s Gospel 19:26, it is related that as Jesus was dying on the cross He entrusted His Mother to the care of St. John. Now if Mary had other children it is incredible that Jesus would have given Her to someone outside of the family. At the death of one of her sons Mary simply would have been commended to the care of her other sons and daughters. This would especially be the case in a Hebrew community where family ties were so strong. Any other way of acting would have constituted a scandal, and Jesus in His dying moments would not (and could not) have left such an example to the Christian world. We are forced, therefore, to conclude that Jesus entrusted His Mother to St. John precisely because after His death on the cross Mary would be altogether alone. (St. Joseph having died before the start of Jesus’ public ministry in the year 29). She had no other children, no sons or daughters who could care for her. Jesus is designated as "the" son of Mary, (not "a" son of Mary.) "The" is singular.

"And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son." St. Matt. 1:25.

St. Matthew is stressing the fact of the virgin birth of Jesus... this holy birth was through the Holy Ghost, by His Power.

The expression "did not know her till she brought forth her first-born son," proves nothing. (It is another "manner" of speaking.) We could say of a certain wicked man, that he repented not till his death, and yet we would not mean that he repented after his death. In II Kings (II Samuel 6:23) we read: "Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child till the day of her death." Surely no one would conclude that she had childrenafter her death.

As for the term "firstborn," an only son could be called "firstborn" son, and was so called in Hebrew law since the term "firstborn" had a technical or legal signification. We still say quite correctly of a mother "that she died giving birth to her firstborn son." (In Hebrews 1:6 we have: "And again when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him." (This shows conclusively that the word "firstborn" means "onlyborn" here. Who is there that will say that God the Father has more than one Divine Son, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity? And who will maintain in the light of this proof that Mary’s "firstborn" son was not her "onlyborn" son? The only begotten of the Father is the only begotten of the Mother.)

Saint Paul, the apostle, used the words "brethren" "brother" scores of times, writing in the New Testament. Any rational person knows that he was not writing to his brothers in the flesh, sons of the same mother as he. Here are a few of the many examples... which seems to escape the Protestants, from their own "Bible."

Acts 2:29 "Men and ‘brethren’ let me freely speak unto you..."

Romans 7:4 "Wherefore my brethren ye also are become dead to the law....."

Romans 10:1 "Brethren, my hearts desire and pray to God for Israel...."

1 Corinthians 15:1 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel...."

Philipians 4:1 "Therefore my brethren dearly beloved and longed for..."

Philipians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true..."

1 Thess. 2:1 "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you..."

1 Thess. 2:9 "For ye remember, brethren, our labor..."

Philemon 1:1 "Paul a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother..."

Hebrews 3:1 "Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling..."

Galatians 3:15 "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men..."

Galatians 4:12 "Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am..."

Galatians 5:11 "And I, brethren, if I yet preach..."

Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault..."

1 St. John 2:7 "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you..." etc., etc., etc.

In the course of the history of Israel, during its preparation for Christ, it pleased divine love repeatedly to give children to the barren in a miraculous manner. The greatest miracle and the most glorious fertility is that of the virgin becoming a mother, the mother of God, the mother of the Redeemer, and through Him the mother of all the redeemed.

The virgin Mary’s first words to her divine Son were: "O welcome, my Lord and my Child." (Isaias 7:14 also)

Additional Meditations...

It might be asked, whether at the destruction of the first-born of Egypt the only born were spared? Exodus 12:19....

In the book of Josue, Machir, the son of Manasses, is called the "firstborn," though he is also the only born. Josue 17:1.

The word "firstborn" is not precisely numerical, it denotes a religion of duty to God, to which the only-born Son of Mary submitted himself. St. Luke 2:22.

"And she brought forth her first-born son and (she) wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and (She) laid him in a manger." St. Luke 2:7. St. Jerome, the great defender of the perpetual virginity of Mary, points to the fact that the evangelist (St. Luke) indicates the miraculous virginal birth of Jesus, when he says that Mary herself wrapped the child in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Just as God was conceived of Mary virginally, so was he born of her virginally. His passage from the portals of her womb into the little cradle of straw in the manger of Bethlehem, was effected as light passes through a window. His body’s exit from the tabernacle of his mother’s flesh did not destroy in one single detail the virginal character of her own body. See Ezechiel 44:2. This prophecy shows Mary’s virginity before, during and after Jesus’ birth, i.e., "shut" before "shut" after.

The phrase "before they came together" should be interpreted in the light of marriage customs of that day, this would refer to the time of the espousals during which the bride remained with her own people and at the end of which she was led to her husband’s house. Therefore, "before they came together," Mary was found with child of the Holy Ghost. St. Matt. 1:18.

The "seed" of the woman (Gen. 3:15) refers to the Woman’s "children". These are the spiritual children of Our Mother, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, her firstborn, was "Spirit" conceived in her womb. The "enmity" between these spiritual children of Our Lady and the spiritual children of Lucifer/the Devil will be a warfare between Truth and Error, Humility and Pride, Obedience and Disobedience, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, for the souls of men. Those who "explain" and defend "Our Lady," honor her Son/God, Who chose her for His Mother and ours. See St. John 19:26-27, Eccl. 24:31.

At Baptism we become "children of God the Father" and "children of Our Lady," which is why we call "Mary, ‘Our Mother". Any child - (seed) who attempts to dishonor his own Mother in any way is doing the "works" of the Devil, Satan, who hates Our Lady, for she crushed his head at her own Immaculate Conception, and the Incarnation of Our Lord. It is a continuous ongoing crushing of lies, hatred and heresy, i.e., the Serpents head by Our Lady and her "seed", the faithful Catholic Children who love her.

By the Right Reverend Dr. Aloys Shaefer
Bishop of Dresden, Saxony