Our Beloved Mom- A Study On The Theotokos- Part-X,XI & Final Part

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Link to parts I,II,III [click here] Link to parts IV,V,VI [click here] Link to parts VII,VIII,IX [Click here]

Our beloved Mom- A Study on the Theotokos- Part-X

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(The Ever Virginity of St Mary-Mother of God by St Jerome) 

Clarifying the concept of ‘Brothers/Brethren’:

In the last part we saw from the example of Abram (Abraham) and Lot as to how the term ‘brothers’ is also used for closed relatives in the Holy Scripture.

In this part, let us see how St Jerome further explains the concept of ‘brothers’ (as used for closed relatives) by taking the example of Jacob and Laban. Jacob was Laban’s sister’s son but he is referred to as ‘brother’ by Laban.

In St Jerome words:
““Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebecca, when in fear of his brother’s treachery he had gone to Mesopotamia, drew near and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the flocks ofLaban, his mother’s brother. (Genesis 29:11) “And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son.”

Here is an example of the rule already referred to, by which a nephew is called a brother. And again, (Genesis 29:15) “Laban said unto Jacob. Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nought? Tell me what shall your wages be.” And so, when, at the end of twenty years, without the knowledge of his father-in-law and accompanied by his wives and sons he was returning to his country, on Laban overtaking him in the mountain of Gilead and failing to find the idols which Rachel hid among the baggage, Jacob answered and said to Laban, (Genesis 31:36-37) “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued after me? Whereas you have felt all about my stuff, what have you found of all your household stuff? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us two.”

Tell me who are those brothers of Jacob and Laban who were present there? Esau, Jacob’s brother, was certainly not there, and Laban, the son of Bethuel, had no brothers although he had a sister Rebecca.”

(We will continue with this letter of St Jerome’s…)

May the prayers of our holy Mom-St Mary-the Theotokos be a strong refuge for us!

Our beloved Mom- A Study on the Theotokos- Part-XI

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(The Ever Virginity of St Mary-Mother of God by St Jerome) 

Clarifying the concept of ‘Brothers/Brethren’:

In this part, St Jerome dwells on the fact that in the Holy Scripture the term‘brothers’ is also used for friendship. He says:

“But, to be brief, I will return to the last of the four classes of brethren, those, namely, who are brethren by affection, and these again fall into two divisions, those of the spiritual and those of the general relationship.

I say spiritual because all of us Christians are called brethren, as in the verse, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” And in another psalm the Saviour says, “I will declare your name unto my brethren.” And elsewhere, (John 20:17) “Go unto my brethren and say to them.”

I say also general, because we are all children of one Father, there is a like bond of brotherhood between us all. (Isaiah 66:5) “Tell these who hate you, says the prophet, you are our brethren.” And the Apostle writing to the Corinthians: (1 Corinthians 5:11) “If any man that is named brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one no, not to eat.”

So we have seen four classes of relationships wherein the term ‘brothers/brethren’ is used in the Holy Scripture. They are – Blood brotherhood (nature), Common nationality (race), the close relatives (kindred), and friendship (love).

St Jerome teaches that in the case of references to our Lord’s brothers, the third meaning applies- the brothers are indeed the close relatives of Jesus Christ.
St Jerome says:

“I now ask to which class you consider the Lord’s brethren in the Gospel must be assigned.
They are brethren by nature, you say. But Scripture does not say so; it calls them neither sons of Mary, nor of Joseph.

Shall we say they are brethren by race? But it is absurd to suppose that a few Jews were called His brethren when all Jews of the time might upon this principle have borne the title.

Were they brethren by virtue of close intimacy and the union of heart and mind? If that were so, who were more truly His brethren than the apostles who received His private instruction and were called by Him His mother and His brethren? Again, if all men, as such, were His brethren, it would have been foolish to deliver a special message, ‘Behold, your brethren seek you,’ for all men alike were entitled to the name.

The only alternative is to adopt the previous explanation and understand them to be called brethren in virtue of the bond of kindred, not of love and sympathy, nor by prerogative of race, nor yet by nature. Just as Lot was called Abraham’sbrother, and Jacob Laban’s..”

(We will continue with this letter of St Jerome’s…)

May the prayers of our holy Mom-St Mary-the Theotokos be a strong refuge for us!

Our beloved Mom- A Study on the Theotokos- Final Part

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(The Ever Virginity of St Mary-Mother of God by St Jerome)

In previous parts, we saw how St Jerome clarified the concepts of ‘wife’/ ‘till’/ ‘first-born son’/ brothers-brethren; the very terms which Helevdius used to propagate his heretical teaching that St Mary had marital relations with St Joseph after the birth of Child Jesus.
We will now see some closing remarks from St Jerome. St Jerome goes on to say that on account of St Mary, St Joseph was a virgin all through his life. St Jerome also doesn’t support the teaching that St Joseph had wives from previous marriage and that the Lord’s ‘brethren’ were the children from those wives.

In the words of St Jerome:

“But as we do not deny what is written, so we do reject what is not written. We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it.
If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord’s brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety.

You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born. For if as a holyman he does not come under the imputation of fornication, and it is nowhere written that he had another wife, but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin.”

St Jerome then questions Helvedius on bringing this ‘innovative’ teaching; asking Helvedius who before him had thought of such blasphemy! St Jerome advises Helvedius to actually read the ancient fathers!(The beauty of the Orthodox faith is that it is the sum total of the Apostolic faith that we have received from the fathers, unchanged, who received it from Apostles, who in turn received it from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ).

“…But you(Helvedius) do worse. You have set on fire the temple of the Lord’s body, you have defiled the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit …Pray tell me, who, before you appeared, was acquainted with this blasphemy? Who thought the theory worth two-pence?”

….Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenæus, Justin Martyr, and many other apostolic and eloquent men, who against Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views, and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man.”

Herein we complete our journey of understanding the perpetual virginity of St Mary as taught by St Jerome. God willingly and by the help and prayers of our holy Mom, we shall strive to study some more topics in the near future.

“Only Christ opened the closed gates of her virginal womb, and yet the gates remained unfailingly closed.”- St Jerome

May the prayers of our holy Mom-St Mary-the Theotokos be a strong refuge for us!

(Ref: 16,17,18,21 St Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary, Against Helvedius)

Your Friend in Christ, 

RINCY RAJU

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