Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Calendar - December 17, 2012

Gospel – Mt.1:1-17

Reflection by Sister Celeste Boda
Judicial Assistant, Tribunal, Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham….” and your mind wanders off as the litany is recited from the Gospel book! This one day in Advent, every year, we listen to this reading of Jesus’ family tree. I know just enough to understand Matthew’s point in this litany. His account is the most Jewish of all the Gospels; he is most interested in Jesus’ relation to the law. It is imperative for Matthew to prove that Jesus is rightly situated in Jewish history. Since Jesus’ humanity had to come from his mother Mary, and not Joseph, don’t you wonder why the genealogy didn’t trace her family tree? But, to the early Jewish Christian community, Joseph had legal paternity and therefore, it is his ancestral line that counts.

So, as I reflected on this Gospel passage, I asked myself, “What does any of this have to do with me? If I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed of God, the Son of God, why do I care about his supposed human ancestry?” In my musings, I happened to glance at a photo on my dresser. It is a picture of my ancestors – my great, great grandmother sitting in a chair, wrapped up in her shawl, surrounded by her thirteen adult children. I know which one is my great grandfather. Who were these people? What sort of characters were they? Any renegades?? Most likely! Okay, I have skeletons in my family closet, just like everyone else. I don’t know them by name, but I fully suspect they are there.

With this in mind, I returned to the genealogy of Jesus, and found that even Jesus had skeletons! There are only a few women mentioned in this list. One is a foreigner - Ruth, the mother of Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David, was a Moabite. And then there is Rahab. We know her in the Old Testament as a prostitute!! While not mentioned by name and actually a victim of King David’s foolishness, is Bathsheba, the wife of Urriah the Hittite. Her only offense was to be beautiful, and good ole’ King David couldn’t, wouldn’t take his eyes off of her; he even had poor old Urriah killed so he could have Bathsheba all to himself. And who was the offspring of this illicit affair? None other than Solomon the Wise! There are most likely other names in Matthew’s list who were less than reputable.

Rather than just drifting off during this Gospel, listen carefully to how fully Jesus is able to embrace our humanity. It makes sense that he surrounded himself with prostitutes and sinners – they truly were his family! We are all truly family: foreigners, prostitutes, couples suffering through infidelity, some fighting the demons of substance abuse or mental illness, others lured by wealth and position who do not seem to have the time of day for the less fortunate, and the list goes on. As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Son of God, let us fully understand that, as our brother, Jesus does not close the door on anyone in the family tree, and neither can we.

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