Mary being conceived without sin and remaining sinless throughout her life are extraordinary mysteries of Faith. It is right for us to say that no human could accomplish this alone, and therein lies the sublime Truth about Mary: it’s all about God! He, and only He, by His almighty and unlimited power and love could accomplish these things and the same is true of Mary’s perpetual virginity, through her relationship with the Holy Spirit.
We’ll come back to this aspect but first let’s touch on a verse of scripture that is problematic for many: Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you” (Mk. 3:32). There are many explanations for what is being said and taught here but to assume that these are biological siblings – that is, other children of Mary – does not coincide with scripture.
Space does not allow an explanation concerning the words “brothers and sisters” as referring to extended family or brethren. Consider when Jesus is “lost” in the temple for three days. There is no mention of siblings, just Mary and Joseph. Hanging on the cross, Jesus tells John, “Behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (Jn. 19:27). The care of the mother after the death of the eldest was the responsibility of the siblings. Where were they? There is, however, an even more compelling understanding for the mystery of perpetual virginity.
We have to go back to the relationship of the Blessed Mother with the Holy Spirit, a relationship that the Church, from early times, has seen as spousal. Too much cannot be said about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as indicated by Gabriel’s address, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk. 1:28), and the conception that takes place when, in response to Mary’s virginal declaration, he says that, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk. 1:35). Joseph was a God-fearing man. God knew he would make a good husband and father. He would not have violated this special spousal relationship Mary had with the Holy Spirit, but took her into his home (Mt. 1:18-24), and faithfully assumed his role as the foster father of Jesus.
[from “The Silence of Mary”] In the bible, “holy” is not an adjective. It is a noun. The word “holy” means: “drawn away from the world by God and for God.” One is holy who, separated from the world, belongs to the world of God.* (This is the struggle of saints.) This is why Joseph has no relations with Mary. She is withdrawn from the limit of the created, and located in the sphere of the persons and things that God has made His.* It should not stretch our diaconal minds and commitment to recognize the servant heart of both Joseph and Mary in accepting God’s divine plan for every human person.
Mary’s perpetual virginity is a profound mystery. We must always remember that it is God’s love for us, through His special relationship with Mary, that causes us to proclaim with the angels on Christmas Day… Glory to God on High!
*[ ”The Silence of Mary,” by Ignacio Larañaga, O.F.M. Cap. pp. 163-164, 1992, St. Paul Books ]