Monday - 3rd Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son came among us as one of us,
a human being among other people,
yet your human face
and the measure of what a human person is.
Lord, make us discover ourselves in his mirror:
that we are born to be free,
to be unselfish, available, committed.
Free us from our selfishness,
our cowardice and attitudes of conformism,
that we may become a bit
what you want us to be, like your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 1, 1-17
Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham: Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers, Judah fathered Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse; and Jesse fathered King David.
David fathered Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa, Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah, Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, Ahaz fathered Hezekiah, Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, Amon fathered Josiah; and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers. Then the deportation to Babylon took place. After the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel, Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, Abiud fathered Eliakim, Eliakim fathered Azor, Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, Achim fathered Eliud, Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob; and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
• The genealogy defines the identity of Jesus. He is the “Son of David and the son of Abraham” (Mt 1, 1; cf 1, 17). Son of David, is the response to the expectation of the Jews (2 Sam 7, 12-16). Son of Abraham, is a source of blessings for all nations (Gn 12, 13). Both Jews and Pagans see their hope realized in Jesus.
• In the patriarchal society of the Jews, the genealogies indicated only names of men. It is surprising that Matthew indicates also the names of five women among the ancestors of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah) and Mary. Why does Matthew choose precisely, these four women as companions of Mary? No queen, no matriarch, none of the fighting women of the Exodus: Why? This is the question which the Gospel of Matthew leaves for us to answer.
• In the life of the four women, companions of Mary, there is something abnormal. The four of them are foreigners, they conceived their sons outside the normal canons and do not respond to the requirements of the Laws of purity of the time of Jesus. Tamar, a Canaanite, widow, she disguised herself as a prostitute to oblige the Patriarch Judah to be faithful to the law, to do his duty and give her a son (Gn 28, 1-30). Rahab, a Canaanite from Jericho, was a prostitute who helped the Israelites enter into the Promised Land (Jos 2, 1-21). Ruth, a Moabite, widow, poor, chose to remain with Naomi and to adhere to the People of God (Rt 1, 16-18). She took the initiative to imitate Tamar and to go and spend the night beside the pile of barley, together with Boaz, obliging him to observe the Law and to give her a son. From the relation between the two, Obed was born, the ancestor of King David (Rt 3, 1-15; 4, 13-17). Bathsheba, a Hittite, the wife of Uriah, was seduced, violated and she conceived and became pregnant from King David, who in addition to this ordered that the husband of the woman be killed (2 Sam 11, 1-27). The way of acting of these four women did not correspond to the traditional norms. In the meantime these were the initiatives, which were not really conventional, which gave continuity to the lineage of Jesus and led all the people to the salvation of God. All this makes us think and challenges us when we attribute too much value to the rigidity of the norms.
• The calculation of 3 X 14 generations (Mt 1, 17) has a symbolical significance. Three is the number of the divinity. Fourteen is the double of seven. Seven is the perfect number. By means of this symbolism Matthew expresses the conviction of the first Christians according to which Jesus appears in the time established by God. With his coming history reaches its plenitude, its fullness.
4) Personal questions
• Which is the message which you discover in the genealogy of Jesus? Have you found a response which Matthew leaves for us to answer?
• The companions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, are very different from what we imagined them. Which is the conclusion which you can draw regarding your devotion to the Blessed Virgin?
5) Concluding Prayer
May his name be blessed for ever,
and endure in the sight of the sun.
In him shall be blessed every race in the world,
and all nations call him blessed. (Ps 72, 17)