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God’s Family

First Reading: Genesis 49: 2, 8-10

Jacob called his sons and said to them:
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel, your father.
“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him?
The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him,
and he receives the people’s homage.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72: 1-2, 3-4, 7-8, 17

R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Gospel: Matthew 1: 1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

NAB

dec 17

Did you catch all of those names? Did you notice the five women mentioned in Jesus, the Son of God’s genealogy? Go back, and look. Who do you find? Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the wife of Uriah, and last of all Mary.

We all know about Mary, conceived without sin, asked to be the mother of God by the angel Gabriel. We wait with her now for the birth of her Son. But who are these other women? These other women are far from sinless.

First there is Tamar, a Chezibite woman (Genesis 38), who had children with Judah, but she was not his wife, you know. She was his first son Er’s wife, but Er died childless and by law she was married to Onan, the second son. Onan is who we get the word “onanism” from (a word used by the Church for contraception), and because he did not allow Tamar to conceive a child, he died as well.

Judah was supposed to marry her to his third son, but instead sent her back to her family. She took matters into her own hands, pretended to be a prostitute, enticed her father-in-law, and that is where Perez came from, who is in the line of Jesus.

Then there is Rahab (Joshua 6:25), the prostitute who hid the Israelites spying in Jericho. She was saved from the total destruction of the city by Joshua because of her good works, and became the mother of Boaz who married the Moabite Ruth (Book of Ruth) who was faithful to her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi and whose son Obed was the father of Jesse.

The wife of Uriah the Hittite is Bathesheba, the mother of Solomon, whom King David saw bathing from his roof, impregnated while her husband was at war, and had her husband left alone on the field of battle to die.

Why are these women and their Gentile backgrounds in the genealogy of the Messiah? Why are these women tainted with sexual sin named? Is God telling us something about His plan for salvation through this?

First of all, we are shown that through these women, Gentiles who had faith in the Old Covenant, were included in the covenant. God accepted these faithful women, and their acceptance into the genealogy, the line of His Son, shows us that God intended to bring all peoples, not just the Jews, into a covenant with Him.

Second of all, He is showing us that sexual sin (and all sin) is not too great for Him to overcome. He can and will make you new no matter what you have done, and He will let you be apart of His plan for the salvation of others if you just let Him and love Him. He wants to love you. He wants to heal you.

Whatever you have done, whatever you are struggling with, know that God wants you in His family. Come to Him, accept His love, and He will make you new. And the last woman of the genealogy? She is your mother.

photo by Edenn Yorks

Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, new baby boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.

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