The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Mt 1:1).
Many may gloss over the long genealogy of names that follows verse one. Matthew certainly had a reason, Luke also had his, as did other ancient writers for compiling genealogical lists. Those reasons are interesting in and of themselves, but I wanted to key in on something basic we may miss if we quickly pass over Jesus’ bloodline.
Matthew placed the context of the incarnation of the Son of God in history, time, and place. Jesus belonged to a people. All of us, as human beings, have the same desire and yearning for belonging. Knowing where we come from, sharing stories of our families, of our culture, ethnicity, race, language, customs, celebrations, rituals, and religion, provide a place for us, provide stability and security. On the flip side, the more we lose the connectedness to our roots, the more we may feel adrift. The need to belong is primal.
Matthew penned for his community the roots of Jesus’ genealogy. Matthew invites us to hear them again, to recognize our place in the same saga of salvation history, for this is our genealogy also. The Church chose this Gospel today as we remember and celebrate the nativity of Mary. All of the Bible, this rich library of faith, is a part of a sacred Tradition, not separate from but an integral part of sacred Tradition. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is a compilation from Mary and our ancestors who encountered God and shared their stories. They passed them on, generation after generation, to provide for us a foundation, so we can know that we are never alone, that we have a place, that we are a people, we stand in solidarity with one another, that we belong. We are a part of something greater than ourselves.
One thing that can weaken the richness of the foundation of our roots and identity is when it is corrupted by a lack of integrity. We see this time and again throughout these same pages of the Bible. Those who not only turn their back on their faith, tradition, and God for their own means and purposes but also those who do not speak up for what is right and just. Yet, even in the darkest of times, there have been those judges, prophets, and people of integrity who have stood up to speak truth to power, to give voice and access to those on the peripheries, leading up to Mary and Jesus himself and his disciples who walked this path of solidarity with others.
Even if we may feel like our country, church, or even our own lives are spinning out of control, let us remain faithful and seek courage and strength from our ancestors in the faith, those people of integrity who remained true, remained faithful, and did not turn and flee, but drew closer to God and became his mouthpiece, even willing to give their lives for what they believed in.
May we resist the swirling clouds of corruption, negativity, hate and division, and instead draw strength from the Son of Mary, and conform ourselves to his life and teaching such that we choose to seek transparency, hold others accountable, empower, love, and seek reconciliation and unity. May we seek and live that peace that surpasses all understanding, such that we can be for ourselves and others a light in the darkness and a calm in the eye of the storm.
Photo: Mary, Mother of God, on this your birthday, please pray for us!