Thursday 17 December
Read today’s Gospel here: Matthew 1:1-17
This forced isolation is a perfect time to get my life together! I’m going to organize and purge, quit binge-watching Netflix, and finally sit down to read the Bible front to back. Well, maybe not the Old Testament – so many rules and too much smiting. But I can totally relate to the New Testament. But wait, you open Matthew, and the first thing you read is a long boring list of Old Testament people who seem sort of familiar.
This has nothing to do with the Gospel message – you’re certain you can just skip past to the good part. But not so fast – what if I told you that is the good part? That the Gospel message is encoded there? Stay with me on this.
In today’s Gospel, we see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bringing the Torah front and center. We see kings in Jesus’ lineage, but we also see Asaph the psalmist and Amos the prophet. And we see that Jesus, the Davidic King, has some wily characters in his lineage, indeed, some dysfunction.
Did you notice the shady characters in that list? There’s Tamar, who posed as a prostitute to get her father-in-law to sleep with her? How about Rahab, who actually was a prostitute (and non-Jew) in Jericho? There’s Ruth, who as a Moabite was not allowed to worship in the Temple. And poor Bathsheba – not even mentioned by name – whose husband was killed through the actions of her soon-to-be lover, King David.
One of the lessons in this lineage is that Jesus works through dysfunction and offers salvation to all people; he is prophet, priest, and king, and we as the Body of Christ share that with him.
As we wait for him this Advent season, think about Jesus’ ancestors. Even with their dysfunction, God worked through them. Jesus came to heal them and love them. He does the same with our families. Imagine that heavenly family reunion – after all, if we live in God with our whole selves, we’ll have a front row seat!
Are there are some wily characters in your family, remember, that we really are one family, and Jesus’ love extends to all of them. Offer a prayer of healing for your family.