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I was somewhat dismayed when I looked at the readings for today. I asked myself, "who needs a genealogy for someone who lived over 2000 years ago?” However, a little further thought and a couple of commentators later I had more ideas than I could use.
To begin with, commentators tell us this genealogy of Jesus was written for a Christian community who probably did want or need to know the lineage of Jesus Christ. After all, these early Christians were being told to put their faith in Jesus and to change their lives to live according to His teachings. They needed to know where he came from. If we love someone, we want to know everything we can about them, just as the early Christians wanted to know everything they could about Jesus.
Still the list of names in Mathew can be somewhat meaningless to us unless we take the time to do the research behind each person listed. (And that, even for these long, dark days of Advent, would be a daunting task.) However, some of commentators I read tell us there are interesting names in this genealogy. For instance, it was customary in early ages that only male ancestors were recorded. It is most unusual that four women were introduced. And such women they were! A pagan, real and pretend prostitutes, an adultress, and a spy were named. We can only wonder why women with such reputations were included. But before we render a judgment, we should remember that these women named were brave and gutsy. They let nothing stand in their way of achieving their goals.
Perhaps the women -- and probably some of the men -- were included because we need to remember that our human backgrounds are often a mixed bag. Like Jesus, we probably have “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in our own lineage. Perhaps, we need to be assured that regardless of who our ancestors are, we can bless God for them.
So today when I read Mathew 1:1-17, I will think of my own ancestors. I will pray for them; maybe pray to some of them. I will thank God for all of them, because for good or bad, directly or indirectly, my ancestors contributed in making me who I am. And for that I will be grateful.