The feast of the Nativity of Mary and the Sunday preceding Christmas are the two days in the year when the Church exhorts the faithful on the gospel reading of the genealogy of Jesus Christ taken from Matthew Chapter 1.
Year after year as the priest would read this gospel, I would sit wondering why the Church was crazy enough to choose such a reading with so many complicated names. Most of them were unheard of.
So why lay so much stress on the family history of Jesus? After years of just sitting and listening, I decided to take a closer look and what I found frankly astounded me.
We see that Abraham rather than choosing Ishmael, his first born, chooses Isaac, his second born.
Isaac wished to bless Esau, his first born son but according to the mysterious plan of God, in the end he blessed Jacob.
Jacob did not choose Reuben, his first born, but rather Judah his fourth son, who was responsible with his other brothers in selling Joseph to slave traders.
We understand very clearly through Christ’s genealogy that we did not choose Christ but that He chose us (John 15:16). We are important and precious to Him and He loves us very much.
We have not been chosen because of our merits but only because of God’s mercy. (Titus 3:5)
I then took a look at the kings in the genealogy of Jesus and realised that before the exile only Hezekiah and Josiah were faithful to God. While after the exile, only Shealtiel and Zerubbabel remained faithful to God. Most of the others were Idolators, assassins, sinners and immoral people.
Even the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus have a colourful story to tell. Tamar was a sinner, Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was a foreigner and Bathsheba was an adulteress.
Yet so beautifully we see that this river of history full of sinners, criminals and immoral people becomes a source of pure water as we approach Jesus. With Mary and Jesus, all generations will be renewed again. (Archbishop Francis Van Thuan)
Today when we look at our families and it perhaps brings us a great deal of shame. Our dad may be a drunkard, our mom may be leading an immoral life, our parents may be separated or may quarrel all the time and so on.
What is our response to it all? Do we curse God and grumble all the time about our pathetic family situation? or have we given a thought to the fact that just like Jesus purified his entire family tree of sinners, we could be the ones that could bring a change in our family.
The prophet Ezekiel writes,
“I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me. ” (Ezekiel 22:30)
Can we be that person in our family who will repair the breach by standing between God and our family and interceding?
The struggles in our family are meant to lead us and our family closer to Christ, closer to sainthood.
The Lord promises that if we turn to Him and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, He will save us and our families. (Acts 16:31)