“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Mt 1,1)
Today we enter into the last week of preparation for the coming of the Christ child, Jesus, and we are reminded that He is very near and that we must ready our hearts and lives to receive him. There is a palpable sense of excitement, anticipation and expectation that accompanies us through this week. God has prepared the way through history for his Son to enter into the world, to take on our human flesh, to accomplish his plan of salvation and to establish his Kingdom. Now his Coming again is very near. Have we prepared ourselves to receive his gift and grace of new life in Christ?
Today we begin with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. What excitement can we find in a genealogy and what can we learn from this scripture? I would guess that often we skip over the genealogy and that we don’t find much inspiration in a long list of names that are hard to pronounce. In reflecting upon this genealogy today I think that there are several important messages hidden in this scripture that we all need to hear and to remember.
I am an individual and each of us has an individual life and we live in a world that stresses individuality. We begin to assert our individuality with the claim that, “This is my life and I will do whatever I want to with it.” In our individuality we tend to isolate ourselves and escape into a world of our own making. This has lead to a very fragmented society characterized by narcissism and subjectivism – or I should say, just downright selfishness. This can lead me to the illusion that I am my own maker and that I am responsible to no one but myself. However, I am not my own maker. My life is not my own. I am part of something that is greater than myself. I came from somewhere, from someone. I belong to someone other than myself. I am someone’s child, sibling, parent, grandchild, cousin, etc.. I am responsible to those who have come before me and who have lived, loved and sacrificed so that I could be born and so that I could receive this life that is mine and yet, not mine. A genealogy reminds us that we are all part of something that is greater than ourselves and that life does not begin and end with our lives but that life flows through us like a great river. My life is a gift and grace that I have received and that I must one day account for. Generations upon generations are counting on me to do my part in the great scheme of life.
Within all of us there is a continuous struggle between good and evil, sin and grace, victories and defeats, great triumphs and miserable failures, ecstatic joys and tragic suffering. St. Paul described this struggle in Romans, chapter 7, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate…For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am!” This struggle is not only our individual struggle with temptation, sin and failures but is a part of a greater historic struggle that has passed down through the ages. The genealogy of Jesus Christ shows us that this struggle has also been a part of the history of God’s plan of salvation. The genealogy of Jesus Christ is an admixture of great sinners and saints. Despite the failures of human persons, God’s plan of salvation is not thwarted and continues on through the ages of man. In the end, God’s grace and favor triumphs time and time again. God’s grace will also be effective in our own lives. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8,31) We are not alone in our struggles, it is part of the human condition. We inherit the human condition but we are also heirs to God’s grace. God is always with us in our struggles and needs.
God’s grace and plan for salvation does not come out of nowhere, it passes through human lives. For a time it comes to us in our very human lives and asks us to be a part of this intricate web of faith. It asks us to give our fiat, our yes, to the birth of Jesus in our interior being. We belong to the great and beautiful Body of Christ that is both human and divine. We are unique but as true Christians, our lives are not our own, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price.” (1Cor 6,19f) We belong to God and he has in mind for our lives to fit beautifully into the great genealogy of faith in Jesus. We are part of something that is bigger than ourselves and greater and more glorious than we could ever imagine. We are destined for glory, it is time to step up and take our place with those who have gone before us in the way of faith. What has been started long ago must now continue in our lives until God, through Jesus Christ, is “all in all.” (1Cor 15,28) Come quickly, Lord Jesus.