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, in time, and in a 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. The whole of the Bible is a rich library of faith and a part of 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 in the pages of the Bible continuing up to our present day. Those who not only turn their back on but usurp their faith, tradition, and God’s message for their own selfish means and purposes. Yet, even in the darkest of times, in those same pages 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.
Even today when we may feel like our country, church, or even our own lives are spinning out of control, let us remain faithful, 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 through Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
We can be rooted amidst the swirling clouds of darkness, dehumanization and division when we draw strength from the Son of Mary and conform ourselves to his life and teaching. We too can engage in dialogue, foster relationships, serve one another when needs arise, as well as seek reconciliation and unity while respecting God’s gift of diversity. By tapping into the eternal spring of the Holy Spirit through dedicated daily time in meditation and prayer we can be reservoirs that overflow to cleanse and purify the poison of polarization, hatred, and violence with God’s love and peace that surpasses all understanding.
Photo: Mary, Mother of God, on this your birthday, please pray for us!