Grace to you
Recently, a woman, who finds it difficult to read the story of the genealogy of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-17) with all the very-difficult-to-pronounce names, asked if it was necessary to read that part of Scripture during Eucharistic celebration.
The text isn’t an easy read. It’s one of the nightmares of many preachers. Many simply skip it and talk about other aspects of the Sunday readings. Sometimes I do too.
Nonetheless, by the actual grace of inspiration and the gift of understanding, plus seeing the entire narrative as one long essay about our salvation in Christ, the New Covenant, the build up to the Church, the body of Christ, what seems complicated, gets clearer.
The response to the woman and to anyone, who finds the story of the genealogy of Jesus difficult to read or to connect to, is to see it in the light of the inspired writer of the gospel. His goal was to prove the humanity of Jesus and his family tree connected to David. The writer, a Jew, knew how necessary it was to the Jews that Jesus is the Son of David. A very crucial point concerning the Messiah—the Christ must be truly human and truly divine; and he is.
More personally, sometimes, I have tried to see how I am engrafted in that story, which, by the way, has not ended. You and I are invited to be included, in continuation of that story, a special spiritual union with the Christ in hope of final blessedness, ”so that God will be all in all” (1 Corinthian 15:28). As theologians would say, it’s a soteriological (about salvation) journey from Incarnation to eschatology (regarding the final end).
How about we see in the genealogy of Jesus, our own invitation to the divine life? Thus, we could add, after Christ, you and I, who by the singular work of God’s grace in Christ, have become part of the Christ lineage, Christ’s family, Christ’s body. “We are the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Your own birth, our own birth in the lineage of Christ, isn’t by biological process, but through the grace of the outward sign of inward grace granted us by Christ himself. Scripture calls it, adoption (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5; Romans 8:15). We are adopted sons and daughters of Christ in his body the Church. The adoption is by baptism and the continuous sustenance in that lineage of Christ through the graces of other sacraments, including the Word of God.
The Church calls the experience, sacramental graces. They are “gifts proper to the different sacraments” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 2003).
In the next two or three days, our reflections will focus on these special graces of the sacraments we receive. They are part of God’s graciousness to us, his beloved children.
For this Day 21 of Advent, may we start to put finishing touches in our preparation for the Lord’s birthday. Remember, Jesus needs nothing from us but our willingness to welcome him in our homes, our families, and our hearts. Lest I forget, Jesus even needs our sins (go to Confession) so we could be healed and make our hearts a beautiful nativity scene for the Infant Jesus.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.