January 28, 2020 (Tuesday) - Oh, Mary! - A Reflection on Mark 3:31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

I am aware that I have a lot of viewers/readers on both sides of the Christian divide. I am also aware that those who are not Catholic have a lot of respect for me because, although I state my beliefs, it is always reasonably, and without any desire to score points. I take Paul’s words to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” very seriously. He said, "There is one body and one Spirit, one hope; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:3-6 par) and we have to be united in that.

Now the reason I say this is because I’m gonna talk about Mary today, very strangely a subject of great friction among Christians. In today’s passage we find Jesus is told that Mary and his brothers and sisters were wanting to see him. “Who are my mother and my brothers?”, he asked. And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Some suggest that Jesus was belittling his mother, which presumably meant they could belittle her too.

On the contrary, Jesus was honoring her. There has, perhaps, been nobody in human history (other than Jesus himself) who has been as obedient to the will of God as Mary. The question Jesus asked was rhetorical. The point he was trying to make to his listeners is that they too were equally his family if they obeyed the will of God (although I still haven’t worked out how anybody could be his mother!). But why disparage Mary? That’s the part that has never made any sense to me.

I suspect part of it is over-reaction to the great devotion Catholics show to Mary, but that is a stupid reason to show such hostility towards the mother of Jesus, no? Think of it this way. I mentioned at the start of this reflection that you have a lot of respect for me. If you didn’t, I figure you wouldn’t watch this. Now, if you were to meet my mother, would you not be respectful towards her? Now, my mother is the mother of a man. Mary is the mother of the Son of God. Come on, guys!

And, my dear Catholic brothers and sisters, it’s fine showing devotion to Mary. I have a lot of fondness for her because she was instrumental in bringing me to Jesus (see Testimony), but try to remember that she’s not God, ok? Because sometimes it seems suspiciously like we believe she is. Jesus is God, and salvation is through him. He is the one worthy of all honor and praise. And rightly so. Because of his great sacrifice we all get to go to heaven.