What about Matthew 12:46-50?


In Matthew 12:46-50:

''46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

We see something that atheists would like to make out as if Jesus was insulting his own mother by ignoring her or disrespecting her like that.

However,in this Christian apologetics video:youtube.com/watch?v=hByVrZtZq08

At around the 2:10 mark…and lasts until 2:45

So…is there any Catholic answer against the claim that in Matthew 12:46-50 Jesus is insulting his mother?

And is there any Catholic answer against the notion it was Jesus own family,including Mary,who insulted him?

And what about John 7 which seems to support the idea Jesus family including Mary actually insulted him?


So glad you asked. Now I get to show off this new [to me] tool that someone else poitned me to. :slight_smile:

At the very top, you can quick-click to the pertinent chapter, then scroll to the pertinent verse. I am still learning the ins-n-outs, though.

  1. While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47. Then one said unto him, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.” 48. But he answered and said unto him that told him, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” 49. And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! 50. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Jerome: He that delivers this message, seems to me not to do it casually and without meaning, but as setting a snare for Him, whether He would prefer flesh and blood to the spiritual work; and thus the Lord refused to go out, not because He disowned His mother and His brethren, but that He might confound him that had laid this snare for Him.

Chrys.: For He said not, Go and say unto her, She is not My mother, but continues His discourse to him that had brought Him word; as it follows; “But he answered and said unto him [p. 477] that told him, Who in my mother? and who are my brethren?”

Hilary: And He cannot be held to have thought meanly of His mother, seeing that in His passion He evinced the most extreme carefulness for her.

Chrys.: But had He desired to disown His mother, He would have done it at the time when the Jews cast His birth in His teeth.

Jerome: He did not then, as Marcion and Manichaeus say, disown His mother, so as to be thought to be born of a phantasm, but He preferred His Apostles to His kindred, that we also in a comparison of our affections should set the spirit before the flesh. Ambrose, Ambros. in Luc. 8, 21: Nor does He overthrow the duty of filial submission, which is conveyed in the command, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” [Ex 20:12] but shews that He owes more to the mysteries and relationship of His Father, than of His mother; as it follows, “And stretching out his hand to his disciples, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren.”

(These are only a few examples of the commentaries.)


“Notion” and “seem”? How about a person be asked to provide some positive evidence of why they believe they “did”, and who it was that “did” such?


In this passage Jesus is telling us that his new covenant is not based on family relationships, which were so important to the Israelites at the time. In Israel, you were defined by the family you belonged to. To be a descendant of David meant you were of the Messianic line. To be of the House of Levi meant you were of the priestly caste, etc. Jesus is saying that in the new covenant, it is the faithful who are his brothers, mother, sister–in other words, his family, his tribe. He came to be the Second Adam, not merely a son of Israel. He is telling them that all who come to believe in him will be the new family of God established in his new covenant. It has nothing at all to do with Mary in the sense of rejecting her–a foolish notion for Jesus gave her to us on the cross. Rather, he is exalting her as one of his faithful ones, for certainly she did the will of the Father in all things throughout her life.

Jesus’ brethren were not his blood brothers, but his tribe. His kinsmen to seemed to be challenging him to announce himself to Israel so that he could be crowned king. If he had done so they could have expected to exalted in position among the people for being his kindred–and perhaps have positions in an earthly kingdom. Jesus rejects this idea, and so goes quietly to the festival because it wasn’t yet time for him to be revealed as the Suffering Servant. Again, it has nothing to do with Mary, per se, who is merely mentioned as his mother.

People who cherry pick verses to try to prove this or that have agendas and are not to be trusted. Rather, we must look at the culture, the laws of Israel, Jesus mission, etc. to understand these passages. And when we do that it is clear that Jesus honored his mother as a good son of Israel should. But he had a wider vision than the people could grasp, not even his family members or his disciples. Only gradually did the full scope of his work among men become clear after his Resurrection and the establishment of his Church.


According to certain scholars,the social world of the Bible,including the New Testament,was based on shame/honor.Therefore it is according to this one apologist to be logical his family would have insulted him.


About the cherry-picking of verses…

Keep in mind the person who says it is Jesus who insulted his mother wasn’t using this argument via any Catholic context.He was using this argument against atheists who like to say Jesus insulted his mother.

The apologist has no agenda against Catholics.

The person,James Patrick Holding,is actually almost compassionate for Catholics,as he claimed himself.

And even once attempted to defend the doctrine of Transubstantiation in a way both Catholics and non-Catholics could accept it,from atheists who believe it is cannibalism:youtube.com/watch?v=7_8U5lGz4jE&index=9&list=PLapIcULLvvedsT3DeqepdzM0EgcWYGbeF

At 0:54-1:16 he lays a defense both Catholics and Protestants could accept as a valid defense.

James Patrick Holding is one of the lead apologists on the Internet.He uses scholarly sources to defend Christianity.

He is also a non-denominational Protestant.However,that is why the entire thing about Matthew 12 is troubling to me.

He is a honest Christian apologist on one hand,but on the other this goes against Catholic teaching…


Do forgive me for the confusion. :blush: I meant the atheists who pick and choose verses out of context to attack the faith. Why they want to pounce on the Bible, when they have no idea what it’s really about, is a mystery to me, but there it is. :shrug:


They want to try and confuse Catholics in the hope that they will fall away, this comes from the devil.


Right, but that’s not evidence that such insult happened. And the apologist said that Mary insulted Him. Why does he believe that? Scripture doesn’t say so. History doesn’t show it. And sociology of the times doesn’t suggest that she (or any of His family) should have insulted the Lord. So, when an apologist says that Mary and Jesus’ family insulted Him, I want to see some actual evidence. See what I mean?


Yes. What I mean is, what’s in it for them? Nothing, yes? So they are acting like the proverbial dog in a manger. They guard against anyone having what they themselves don’t want/don’t believe in. It’s a pointless exercise in human terms, so yes, it means that it is instigated by the devil.


The passage is not an insult to Mary but is actually a compliment.

Jews thought that they were God’s chosen people because of the genealogy, because they are descendants of Abraham, because they were born Jews. Jesus is teaching that you are not in a covenant family relationship with God because of your nationality or because of who your family was but because you hear and obey the word of God.

Nobody did God’s will better than Mary. :smiley:



HOLD IT! So the OP is saying that Mary insulted her Son, and then Jesus insulted her back?

Then where does that leave “turn the other cheek”?:rolleyes:


We have to look at this and the parallel verse in Mark.

This occurred in the last year of Jesus’ Ministry, when John the Baptist had been executed, Herod’s army had been defeated, and the Temple Priesthood was after Jesus as a troublemaker.

The verse occurred when Jesus was in the eastern Galilee area, which was in the Decapolis and beyond the reach of Antipas. And not far away from Nazareth.

So the simple explanation is that Jesus’ mother and brothers came from Nazareth to talk some sense into Jesus and to bring him home. Maybe to the carpentry shop!

And Jesus did not want to go…


I think the question regarding that passage was more in regard to Christ’s response that His “brethren” are more than those who are kin of flesh, village, or country…but those who do God’s Will are ALL brethren of the Lord.

At any rate, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel with new speculation. The Church has been preaching this Gospel for nearly 2,000 years, and in that link I provided we have over 1,600 years of consistent understanding of what was going on in that passage.


Jesus said that the one who does the will of God is his mother and are his brothers. Nobody did God’s will better than Mary.

He is paying a compliment to his mother. That’s all there is to it.



Actually,the apologist is saying that Jesus family wanted to speak with him because they thought he was crazy.This was something that could shame him.According to that apologist Jesus recognized that and ignored them.That is actually what happened according to this apologist.

And that is why this troubles me since it is a fact the social world was based on shame and that the apologist is saying John 7 supports his idea.And keep in mind this is coming from a great Christian apologist named James Patrick Holding.


No where does the text say that Mary thought Jesus was crazy. She would never have insulted the Son she had agreed to conceive, bear, give birth to knowing he was the long awaited Messiah. It simply doesn’t make sense. Any apologist who states otherwise is not a “great apologist” but is claiming that the Church is wrong about her Marian teachings. Why listen to a Protestant apologist in order to understand Church teachings? (the Bible is part of Church teachings, btw, not separate from it). Read and listen to those who know what the Church teaches and why, instead. Listening to this man is only confusing you, so don’t do it.


Actually,when he said ‘‘crazy’’,he actually meant his parents thought he was shaming them,something his parents believed he should know about,but did not listen to.

I really cannot get his interpretations 100 percent right,so sorry for the misleading confusion.

But to sum it up the best way I can:

James Patrick Holding is compassionate for Catholics.He does not behave like James White or any other Protestant like that.Nor does he have specfically non-Catholic beliefs.

However,the reason his claims are so blatantly contradictory to Church teaching is because that is his way of using apologetics.

He did his own research to defend Christianity,and sadly it turned into the Protestant direction,.But that is when he researched this himself.

What he is actually saying,to put it in a longer version for all to understand is:

Jesus family came to talk to him because they thought he was bringing shame to their family.Jesus actually did not do that.Jesus family simply misunderstood everything.

Because of that misunderstanding,it would have brought shame and other bad things towards Jesus instead.

As he puts it in a way that makes it easily understandable for people who cannot completely research this himself:

‘‘Jesus would say to Steve Shives (atheist):’‘Look into the story further,because it was my own family who was dissing me,not I them.’’’’

The word ‘‘dissing’’ is used as a replacement for a type of shame to be brought to Jesus by his family who thought it brought shame to them that Jesus spoke in public.

Now,this apologist only uses these arguments because he researched things himself.

I myself have seen his material and it helped me against some claims of contradictions in the Bible.

In fact,other Catholics also accept some of his material too,and they know what is Catholic and what is not:forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=908622

In the responses you will find what I am talking about…

I think I have said enough now.

I think after seeing all these responses,it seems a good argument can be made for a Catholic explanation,though the Protestant one still bothers me a bit.But much less then it used to before seeing the answers in this thread.


The text absolutely nothing about Jesus mother trying to shame him. That is completely made up out of thin air.

Matthew 12:46-50 is teaching about covenants.

Covenants create family relationship. The covenant between God and Israel was what set the Jews apart from other people. The covenant/family relationship with God was everything to the Jews and they thought that they were automatically part of the covenant, automatically part of God’s family just because they were born Jewish, because of who their mother and father were.

Jesus teaching here is very simple to a Jew who understands covenants. Jesus had just finished an excoriating rebuke of the Pharisees and Scribes who commanded others to do God’s will but did not do God’s will themselves. Jesus says that it is not your genealogy which makes you part of God’s covenant family. Jesus teaches that doing God’s will is what makes you part of his family. It’s that simple.

No one did God’s will better than Mary. It’s that simple. It is not a rebuke of Mary but a compliment. No one did God’s will better than Mary.

Anything about Mary shaming Jesus is simply made up.



When we use Protestant apologists we have to be careful because no matter how much research they think they’ve done, in the end, they are really interpreting Scripture through the lens of what they already believe–in rejection of core Catholic teachings.

I’ll use another example: C. S. Lewis. I know of no Catholics who have read him who don’t get a great deal from his writings–me included. Indeed, I credit him for putting my feet on the path that ultimately led me to the Catholic Church. However, even Lewis cannot be fully trusted to explain Christ’s teachings in line with the Church. He had serious reservations about the authority of the Church–which is why he never “poped” as he would have put it. He was brought up Northern Irish Protestant under his materal grandfather’s ministry that railed against the Catholic Church. He was never able to put that bias aside, unfortunately.

We have to sift all we read from Protestants through the sieve of Church teaching. If it doesn’t match, it should be tossed aside. It is glaringly obvious that Mr. Holding doesn’t understand or accept Catholic Marian teachings. He skews his interpretation of Scripture accordingly. Therefore, on this matter, he cannot be trusted. :slight_smile:

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