Today’s Scripture reading is one of my favorites. It is 17 glorious verses naming the ancestors of Jesus. The fun starts with Abraham and Sarah and goes through Judah and Tamar, Ruth and Boaz, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, up to and including Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. “Of her,” writes Matthew, “was born Jesus who is called the Christ.” (Matthew 1:1-17)
Image** Genealogy of Jesus, church ceiling painting in Saint Michael, Hildesheim
Why a lengthy genealogy of Jesus? Read Robert P. Maloney, C.M., of the Congregation of the Mission, The Genealogy of Jesus in America Magazine (December 17, 2007).
Why do I love it so? Through there are controversies around the genealogy and how it adds up, how it matches the genealogy in Luke’s gospel, and what it all really means, there is a simple truth that speaks loud and clear to me. The genealogy gives us a sense of Jesus’ people and of how anticipation of Jesus has been interwoven throughout history long before Mary first got word from the angel that she was carrying the child of God. The genealogy of Jesus also reminds my of my people, of how my life is rooted in my family, my grandparents, great-grandparents, and so forth.
In my IHM congregation, there is a saying that we use often: “Everything before us brought us to this moment, standing on the threshold of a brand new day.” In light of today’s reading, we can also say “Everyone before us brought us to this moment …” Like any family “everything” and “everyone” in our history hasn’t always been that pretty, but still, it has all brought us to this moment. Even Jesus had some racy ancestors yet I’d say he turned out okay!
So today let us celebrate our people — our own ancestors and our spiritual ancestors through Jesus the Christ born of Mary.
What familial or spiritual ancestor do you celebrate today?