The Virginal Birth of the Saviour

The Virginal Birth of the Saviour


Reflection on the Gospel of the


Matthew 1: 1-16, 18-23

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout salvation history, God prepared his people for the coming of Jesus. The Holy Spirit completed these preparations in Mary.

In today’s gospel Mathew divides the genealogy into three units of 14. It is not exhaustive, since several Old Testament names are omitted and the divisions cover unequal periods of time.  Mathew stresses the number 14 to show Jesus as the new Davidic king. Mathew is concerned with fourteen generations, probably because fourteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew letters forming the name of David.

The genealogy of Jesus tells us that:

  1. The birth of Jesus does not take place by accident but at a pre-determined time as part of a providentially directed history.
  2. Jesus is both the Son of Abraham fulfilling the promise made to Abraham that in one of his descendants all the nations would be blessed and the Son of David, that is, the Davidic Messiah who would save Israel. 
  3. The family tree includes Gentile women as part of the ancestry of Jesus: There was something extraordinary or irregular in their marital union. They showed initiative and played an important role in God’s plan.

Mathew by giving us the genealogy of Jesus wishes to convey two truths: Jesus is conceived virginally through the action of God, as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Is 7:14. Secondly Jesus is adopted by Joseph as his son, and so becomes part of the family of David. Jesus is thus both Son of God by conception and Son of David by adoption. The virginal conception of Jesus may be regarded as an outward physical sign of an invisible, inner reality, the birth of the Son of God.

Joseph plays a most significant role as he is the one who is to make Mary’s son part of David’s family; he is commanded to name the son ‘Jesus’. Joseph is not called the father of Jesus but only the spouse of Mary.

God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Mathew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people. 

Mother Mary and St Joseph discovered in prayer( through an angelic vision and through a dream) their extraordinary calling and their mission in life and both courageously gave up their personal plans and human hopes in order to present Jesus, the Pearl of great price to our needy world!

Today we can ask ourselves ‘Am I willing to say YES to God’s plan for my life?

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