The Genealogy of Jesus

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Reflection on the Gospel of the Wednesday In The Twenty-Third Week In Ordinary Time

Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23 (Feast: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

 

Genealogies were very important to the Jews of Jesus’ times… They, the Jews were the people of the Covenants. Covenants with themselves and God. At one side it showed Israel/Judah’s long connection with Yahweh, and at the other it should paranoia to be cultural pure and set apart from the rest of the peoples. This became a highlight and paranoia with loosing of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the ensuing problems that set in. The leadership, spiritual and public, started to look at things myopically in trying to understand the problems of exile, no prophets, foreign rule and occupation, cultural battering, especially under Hellenistic rule…

They concluded with their own human understanding and fashioned God according to their way of thinking… someone who saw to it that every wrong was accounted for and paid in full up to the fourth generation… This is a very horrible way of looking at a God who we define and understand as Love… best personified by the self-sacrifice of himself on the Cross.

Within this paranoia, the Jews became more regressive and a more male dominated and ruled…

So in this excellent first passage – the Genealogy, Matthew the Gospel Writer achieves much, and clears the air of How God personally relates to humanity – personally, practically and in steadfast love and compassion.

First he brings up the fore-founder of their tribe – Abraham, and then most hallowed and respected of the past leaders – David, he who had put Israel on the World Map, and fashioned them as God’s People. Then Matthew proceeds to link both of them to Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, associating Jesus with the Promises and Covenants and the Hopes the people of Israel treasured. But in doing so, he also introduces four women in the Genealogy. Women were unimportant persons, mere tools to an end, in the First Century. But these are no ordinary woman. The first three are all connected with David, one a prostitute, three foreigners and we can go on discussing for a long time. But these women though may look black, but they cannot be overlooked, because they were the ones who made it possible to bring in and further the Dynastic Rule of the House of David. Matthew seems to say, Israel/Judah your past is not important, but what you do with your present is what is important. Take for instant the last woman – Mary (Keep note this Genealogy is written after Jesus’ Death, Resurrection and Ascension), there is conclusion for those not ready to outright believe that she gave birth to Jesus – the Son of God – and remained a virgin, that is okay, but we are honour bound to look at the fruit of this tree Mary, what was her life, and what did her life achieve. Also what did the fruit of her womb – Jesus achieve and what reality did he throw light on with his life, death and resurrection; Yes he is the Son of God.

If he is God’s Son as we have come to believe after his death and resurrection, there must be credibility to the story of how Mary said Yes to God and became pregnant with God. Indeed she became the living Ark of God’s New Covenant. A light for all to behold, even as she continues her ministry, of visiting places in darkness, and shining the Light of God – he who resides in her. She then is the first fruit of the new Covenant, first, for all of us to imitate and then for all of us to say – Holy Mary – Mother of God, pray (and visit us with the fruit of of your womb) for us – sinners, now and at the hour of our death, that we may be hallowed with God’s presence and merit Heaven.

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