1.30 Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?
The Bible often refers to the “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus, so how can we believe that Mary remained a virgin and did not give birth to other children? In the Bible, the word brother or sister is not just used to refer to children of the same parents (as we do today).
In the Bible, “brothers” can also be cousins, nephews and uncles, and “sisters” also cousins, nieces and aunts. Jesus calls us all brothers and sisters. The mutual bond between Christians is not based on blood ties, but on following Jesus and thus becoming a brother or sister of Jesus, and therefore also of each other.
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The Wisdom of the Church
What does the virginal conception of Jesus mean?
The virginal conception of Jesus means that Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Virgin solely by the power of the Holy Spirit without the intervention of a man. He is the Son of the heavenly Father according to his divine nature and the Son of Mary according to his human nature. He is, however, truly the Son of God in both natures since there is in him only one Person who is divine. [CCCC 98]
Why is Mary a Virgin?
God willed that Jesus Christ should have a truenhuman mother but only God himself as his Father, because he wanted to make a new beginning that could be credited to him alone and not to earthly forces.
Mary’s virginity is not some outdated mythological notion but rather fundamental to the life of Jesus. He was born of a woman but had no human father. Jesus Christ is a new beginning in the world that has been instituted from on high. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary asks the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (= do not sleep with a man, Lk 1:34); the angel answered, “The holy spirit will come upon you” (Lk 1:35). Although the Church from the earliest days was mocked on account of her belief in Mary’s virginity, she has always believed that her virginity is real and not merely symbolic. [Youcat 80]
In what sense is Mary “ever Virgin”?
Mary is ever virgin in the sense that she “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (Saint Augustine). Therefore, when the Gospels speak of the “brothers and sisters of Jesus”, they are talking about the close relations of Jesus, according to the way of speaking used in Sacred Scripture. [CCCC 99]
Did Mary have other children besides Jesus?
No. Jesus is the only son of Mary in the physical sense.
Even in the early Church, Mary’s perpetual virginity was assumed, which rules out the possibility of Jesus having brothers and sisters from the same mother. In Aramaic, Jesus’ mother tongue, there is only one word for sibling and cousins. When the Gospels speak about the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus (for instance, in Mk 3:31–35), they are referring to Jesus’ close relatives. [Youcat 81]
This is what the Popes say
The origin is different but the nature alike: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained [Pope Leo I, Sermons 22:2].