Thursday, December 19, 2013

Importance of Genealogies: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

            Now you know why priests have to go to school so long—to pronounce a list of names like this!
            I don’t often do show-and-tell during the homily, but here is something I keep in my office I would like you to see [Jesus’ family tree all the way from Adam and Eve].
            We might be surprised to hear such a list in a Gospel in the New Testament.  More than this, these are the very first words in the Gospel according to Matthew!  Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, appeals to their emphasis on such a list.
The Old Testament especially features genealogies.  These names listed more than people, but showed how their religious history passed from one generation to the next.  On this poster you can see an unbroken line from Adam to Jesus—a sign of God’s fidelity through the generations.  Matthew gives three cycles of fourteen generations, showing that God’s hand was directly involved in Israel’s history.
Something else is pretty cool about the genealogy of Matthew.  In ancient history genealogies were structured on males—sorry, ladies, this is just how it was.  Yet in Matthew’s account four women are included—Tamar, Rahab and Ruth in the Old Testament.  Notable is Rahab’s faith (she let the Israelite spies into the Promised Land, knowing that God would be faithful in His promises) and Ruth’s passion (another foreigner who converted to Judaism and was King David’s great-grandmother).
The last woman: Mary.  As the New Eve she comes after many generations and is the last name on this list before Jesus Christ himself.
Through approaching these genealogies more closely we see God’s providence in history and the extent to which he prepared for Jesus.  Buckle up!  Christmas is coming!

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