“Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever” ~ Psalm 72
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:1-17) we begin at....well . . . the beginning. The Book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, is proclaimed, as it is every Advent Season.
I realize that this is not typically a favorite passage of many. It’s oftentimes skipped even by those who make time to habitually read Scripture. The names can be extremely difficult to pronounce. When it’s read at Mass, there‘s a tendency amongst some of the faithful in our midst to drift, wander, and meander into such matters as to-do lists, the Steelers/Ravens Game that‘s slated to kick off immediately after Noon Mass, or perhaps Sunday Brinch with the ladies at that new Tea Parlor downtown. Still others wonder why it’s even important or relevant to read this passage at Mass to begin with. Why is it even included in Scripture?
Well, for Matthew the Apostle it was critical to show the early believers that Jesus did in fact have an ancestral lineage. that he did not merely appear abruptly or randomly out of the blue. To the contrary, he came from a fine and painstakingly woven tapestry that represented a rich, densely textured history. And what a cast of characters it was.
Saints, sinners, tax collectors, poets, prostitutes....you name it. From this long line of distinguished and not-so-distinguished, the well known (Isaac) and the obscure (Amminadab), the saints (Joseph) and the sinners (Jacob), the kings (Hezekiah), the adulterers (David) and the murderers (David again) came "Jesus, who is called the Messiah."
God became one of us, in all of our grace and sinfulness, in all of our beauty and scandal. Like most families, God’s family was something of a mixed bag. I enjoy this Gospel Passage in that I allow my imagination to run free as the names are read. Did Boaz have a good sense of humor? Was Abijah a captivating story teller? What was Amos like? Or Ruth? Which one(s) were the life Of the party? Which ones were to be avoided?
Biblical scholars tell us that King Hezekiah inherited a dicey situation from his father Ahaz, yet managed to call the Israelites back to the proper worship of the God, eschewing the idols that they favored prior to his reign. His role in protecting Israel from the brutal and relentless onslaught of the Assyrian Army should not be overlooked either. Unfortunately however, things deteriorated yet again under the reign of Amon, Hezekiah’s grandson, as idolatry once again took center stage.
Through it all however, God remained patient in his love for his people. Fast forward to today’s overly-secularized, money-motivated celebration of the birth of Jesus, God remains faithful, patiently waiting and welcoming back those who have diluted or even changed the true meaning of this most blessed and sacred of Holidays.
Remain confident in God’s love for you; a love so abundantly generous that He humbled Himself to become like us, bringing his only begotten son into this world for our salvation.
“O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature, who willed that your word should take flesh in an ever-virgin womb, look with favor on our prayers, that your Only Begotten Son, having taken to himself our humanity, may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever” ~ Amen