(Optional Memorial for Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs)
|“The Holy Family” (The Seville Virgin) |
by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1665-70
Reading 1: Ezra 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
Commentary on Ezr 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
This passage from the book of Ezra reports the completion of the great work of rebuilding the
Temple in (although there is recognition that this hastily reconstructed [in only 5 years] structure was a far cry from Solomon’s great work). Following Mosaic laws, Jerusalem reestablished the infrastructure of the faith community and celebrated the first great feast, Passover. Israel
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Commentary on Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
Psalm 122 is a song of thanksgiving centered upon returning to the Temple in Jerusalem. (Mosaic Law required such a trip three times in an individual's life.) The song rejoices in the visit to the holy place, the seat of King David. The original singers would have been rejoicing at returning to the one temple. For Christians, the new Jerusalem is the one and only house of God in his heavenly kingdom. There the Lord sits in judgment.
Gospel: Luke 8:19-21
Commentary on Lk 8:19-21
In this passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus identifies his family as the family of faith as opposed to just his blood relatives. There are several connotations of the language used that are treated in the parallel story in Matthew 12:46-50 relating to the broader meaning of the language from the Aramaic, and also the apocryphal documentation regarding St. Joseph’s unnamed widow (prior to his betrothal to St. Mary). St. Luke’s treatment of this topic is softer than that found in St. Mark’s Gospel (Mark 3:31-35), probably because St. Mary had already been introduced as the model of fidelity to the Lord.
The short Gospel passage provided today presents an interesting problem for those who are Catholic and at the same time are biblical literalists (we differentiate here from those who are by their confession sola scriptura – that is Bible-only folks). A person who reads sacred scripture on the surface might find this passage contradictory to the Catholic belief that Jesus had no siblings; that the Blessed Mother bore only one child from her immaculate womb. (CCC 499-500)
“499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin".
"500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary". They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.”
But there it is in black and white “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside.” Scripture scholars who have looked deeply into the Aramaic language spoken at the time, but also into the Semitic usage of the language will tell us that this statement in no way contradicts the idea that Jesus was the only child born of St. Mary. The term used for Brother refers to all male kinsmen which would include cousins (such as
St. John the Baptist). No other scriptural source mentions other children from St. Mary and St. Joseph (although there could be confusion over the first Bishop of Jerusalem over the same linguistic nuance since he is referred to as “James, the brother of the Lord” (Galatians 1:19)).
We use this issue to point to a tremendous difficulty that arises when there is no authority over how the Holy Bible is interpreted and the rifts that appear among Christian brethren as a consequence. Back in the 14th and 15th centuries when the sacred texts became widely available to the masses, well-meaning individuals thought to contradict the Church’s teaching authority, citing scriptural authority. While the need for reform at that time in
will not be denied, the schism that is known as the Protestant Reformation is due in large part to this very issue. Holy Mother Church
Today we continue to see various factions break off from mainstream denominations. In many cases it is because they have no respect for a central authority that has prayerfully reflected on the sacred canon of the Bible and its contents for two millennia. If one looks closer at the motives they are generally based on the biased view of a person or group that believes they have a special or unique insight (most commonly attributed to the Holy Spirit). In the early Church this was known as Doceitism or Gnosticism.
This is brought forward not so we can be condescending or critical but rather as a caution. When we take issue with the Dogmatic pronouncements of the Church or when we think to challenge the Teaching Magisterium we are treading on dangerous ground. That does not mean we cannot think. It simply means we must delve deeper into what the Church has taught; understand the incredible richness of what is contained not only in scripture, but also in what has been debated and written while attempting to understand scripture for over two thousand years.
Today our great thanks is for God’s gift of the Church and the wisdom of which she alone is custodian. May we give thanks to Him alone for the truth that is Jesus.
 The picture is “The Holy Family” (The Seville Virgin) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1665-70
 S.S Commemoratio
 The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
 Cf. Mark 3:31-35; 6:3; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19.
 Matthew 13:55; 28:1; cf. Matthew 27:56.
 Cf. Genesis 13:8; 14:16; 29:15; etc.