Mary during ministry of Jesus

By Father Kenneth Doyle

Question: I am wondering what Mary did and where she lived during the three years of Jesus’ ministry. Did she travel with the “women who ministered to him”? (Wichita, Kansas)

Answer: In the Gospels, once the public ministry of Jesus has begun, Mary is mentioned in only a few scenes. We can assume that his mother did not accompany him throughout the course of that 2 1/2-year period but continued to reside at Nazareth.

At a general audience in March 1997, Pope John Paul II said: “The beginning of Jesus’ mission also meant separation from his mother, who did not always follow her son in his travels on the roads of Palestine. Jesus deliberately chose separation from his mother and from family affection, as can be inferred from the conditions he gave his disciples for following him and for dedicating themselves to proclaiming God’s kingdom.”

Mary was present, of course, at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1-11), where Jesus saved the hosts from embarrassment by providing more wine at his mother’s request. Also, on one occasion during the course of Christ’s preaching journeys, we learn (Lk 8:19) that Mary and Jesus’ “brothers” came to hear him but could not enter because of the crowd.

It was then that Jesus explained, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:21). Mary was present, of course, at the foot of the cross during Christ’s passion, and it was there that Jesus committed his mother (Jn 19:26-27) to the care of his beloved disciple John.