Years and years ago, my Grandma Alice took an interest in family genealogy. Back then, there was no Ancestry.com, or DNA tests, or any other easy way to connect with those in her family tree. Instead, she meticulously researched municipal records, visited cemeteries, and wrote letters to those she thought could be her relatives. When her memory started to fail, her eldest son, my dad, took up the torch and continued the research. And when Dad’s memory also started to fail, his younger brother, my Uncle Jim, continued on, this time with the help of countless online resources that weren’t available when Grandma Alice started her quest.
Today, the published works of my paternal family’s history total more than three volumes and 700 pages—far longer than today’s reading from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew.
Because Grandma Alice died when I was very young, I never got the opportunity to ask her why she took such an interest in her family history. I would imagine, though, that for her, as well as for her boys, it mattered where she came from. Who were the people who went before her? Why did they marry who they married, and work where they worked? Did they love the Lord? Did they struggle? It gives me great comfort to know that I came from that history, from those sacrifices, from those seekers of beauty, truth, and goodness.
Our friends in today’s Gospel are also part of our history. It might seem like a boring list of oh-so-hard-to-pronounce names, but they are the story of our Jewish family, and the story of the Holy Family. Within Jesus Christ’s genealogy are sinners, just like us, who had to learn a thing or two of the mercy and goodness of God, just like us.
We all come from a history that is at times painful. Take heart, Sisters, that the most beautiful gift in the world emerged from a family history that had its own hard times, and that we, too, are invited to share in its redemption.
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Karen Schultz is a Birth Doula who hails from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. You can find out more about her here.