The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it. Luke 8: 19-21
Today’s gospel, though short and sweet, can cause a lot of confusion. I remember the first time I read this passage. I thought, “What? Jesus had brothers?” In doing some research, I learned that the gospel of Luke was originally written in Greek. The word “adelphos” in Greek has no direct translation in English. The closest word in English is “brother”, and thus ( I
suppose), the word was chosen.
The word “adelphos,” as it turns out, could not only refer to brothers but cousins, nephews, and half brothers. Back in the day that Jesus walked the earth, it was very common for extended families to live together, so that cousins might be “brother-like” in relation to one another. If the passage were read literally from the English translation, one would believe that Jesus had brothers through Mary. As Catholics, we believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity, as told to us through Sacred Tradition. This passage does not contradict that Truth, if read with the understanding of language translation in mind.
Jesus does have brothers – and sisters – Adopted ones that is! We are God’s adopted children through our baptism, making us brothers and sisters in Christ. Praise be to God!