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Friday of the Third Week of Advent
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile. After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.
Opening Prayer: Quiet my heart, Lord. Free my mind from regret and anxiety. Remind me, in this time with you and your word, that you are the Lord of human history. Keep my focus on you. I love you and I trust you; please make my love and trust stronger.
- Why?: As we read today’s Gospel, we may wonder why Matthew chose to start his account of the life of Christ with a long list of his ancestors. Even more puzzling: Matthew chose to omit some of Jesus’ ancestors so that the groups of fourteen worked out nicely—and he did not omit the embarrassing ancestors! He included the prostitutes, murderers, and adulterers among the ancestors of Jesus. Matthew was writing for a largely Jewish audience, and his purpose was to prove to them that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Starting with the genealogy was a convincing beginning: it had been foretold that the Messiah would be a direct descendant of King David. However, unlike some royal biographers, Matthew did not shy away from including the ugly parts of the family tree. He wanted to show beyond doubt that Jesus was not just another rabbi or preacher, that the Old Testament prophecies had been fulfilled.
- Who Were These People?: Let’s pick a few. Abraham failed to trust God and took his maidservant as a mistress to ensure he had a son. David wanted another man’s wife and sent that man to die in battle so he could have her. Solomon sought a witch to summon the dead instead of turning to God for help. Tamar was a prostitute. So far, this is not an illustrious line-up of flawlessly holy men and women. Yet God chose to work through these people to bring about the greatest good the world has ever known or ever will know: the Incarnation, God made flesh. The family tree of the Messiah was no accident. Through this family tree, God fills us with hope today. No matter what sins we have in our past, no matter what we struggle with today, he can work in us for the good of the world if only we turn to him. This group of sinners had one thing in common: they had remorse for their sins and they turned to God for forgiveness. In his mercy, God blessed them abundantly, for they became the forefathers of Jesus Christ himself.
- It’s a Miracle: It is nothing short of a miracle that this family line survived. The Babylonian exile alone was a devastating blow to the Jewish people. In 597 BC more than 10,000 Jews were deported to live in captivity in Babylon. By 586 BC Judah was no longer an independent nation. The Jews no longer had a homeland. God ensured the lineage of Jesus despite war, deportation, and sin. Indeed, Jesus is the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, when I really think about the plans you laid out in the Old Testament and fulfilled with the Incarnation, I am overwhelmed. When I see your great love for so many sinful characters from the Bible, I am able to believe that you can love me too. When I think of the mistakes and sins of my own life, I often hear a voice tell me that I am not worthy, that I cannot do anything good for you. Keep my focus on you and remind me that this voice does not come from you. Remind me that the enemy of my soul wants me to believe these lies. Help me to turn to you.
Resolution: I will pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all of the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
For Further Reflection: Resource and Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew.
Cathy Stamper and her husband Mike live in Maryland. They enjoy spending time with their five young adult children who live in various places in the United States and Eastern Europe. They have been partners in marriage and business for over thirty-one years. They are grateful for their large extended family and good friends.