Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Today's readings can be found: [HERE]
Our gospel passage today is quite beautiful. There can be a temptation to read the short form of today's gospel passage to omit the genealogy of Christ, or one could be tempted to read through that genealogy quickly, but the genealogy of Christ, both here and in Luke in different forms, is very moving.
Imagine being one of the people of the Old Covenant hearing that litany of names. Every name represents a certain portion of their history. Today's genealogy begins with Abraham.
In hearing his name, one could recall the covenant that God established with him; that his descendants would outnumber the starts in the sky and the sands on the seashore. One could recall how God visited Abraham in his own age and promised that a son would be born to him, and how Sarah laughed at the proclamation, and how "laughter" is at the heart of Isaac's name.
One would hear of Isaac and recall how his wife Rebecca was chosen for him among Abraham's family, rather than from among the Canaanites.
One would hear of Jacob, and how he stole his birth right from his brother Esau through deceit.
One would recall how Judah interceded against the slaying of Joseph, and how he would later intercede in behalf of Benjamin.
One would hear of Boaz and Ruth and recall their story.
And so on...
From our perspective in history, many of these names may seem foreign, and therefore we perhaps overlook their significance in the proclamation of the word, but each name is filled with great cultural, religious, and spiritual gravity.
A disciple of the Old Covenant couldn't help but be overcome by an increasingly growing aching plea: "How long, O Lord? How long must we wait until your promised Messiah comes? How many generations must pass before we are delivered from slavery?"
Until finally, we round the corner: 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.
At last! At last comes the Promised One who awakens the dawn! At last comes the one who gives birth to the New and Eternal Covenant! How marvelous it is that the promised one comes to redeem that lineage of sinners. You'll notice how Christ's genealogy is a litany of sinners. You'll also notice that it is through Joseph's marriage to Mary that Jesus is heir to the throne of David.
Our own lives are the culmination of our own life histories and the lives of our ancestors who have gone before us. We are all sinners, and we come from a long line of sinners. Nevertheless, God has desired to inherit my lineage and yours, and inaugurate something new and eternal for each of us. He breaks the cycle of sin in my life history and yours, and calls us to eternal life with him.
He did this in the life of Joseph and of Israel through Joseph's marriage to Mary. In the flesh, Jesus is the biological son of Mary, flesh and blood. But by Law, he is Joseph's son. According to the prophecy, Jesus is the heir to David's throne--through Joseph, because of his union to Mary, the Mother of God.
Similarly, we who are not of the flesh and blood of Jesus can likewise entrust our lineage to Jesus through Mary, who symbolizes the Church. Through Mary and the Church, we truly do receive Jesus (especially through the Eucharist) and Jesus receives each of us.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Mary's nativity. May she continue to intercede for us and be our connection to Jesus. May God bless you.
The Birth of the Virgin (1661) by the Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [from Wikipedia]