17 December, Saturday — Learning from Jesus’s Genealogy

17 December

Gn 49:2, 8-10
Mt 1:1-17

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.

During Lent this year, I impulsively made a decision to embark on the Bible in a Year podcast by Ascension Press, which required me to devote up to 30 minutes a day to listen to Father Mike Schmitz reading selected Bible passages and offering guided reflections. Needless to say, my commitment over the past months has wavered dramatically (especially after I started going back to office for half the week), partly also because I often found it difficult to pay attention to the mind-boggling amount of kings/queens/soldiers/prophets/peasants/others I’ve forgotten, battles, and even territorial accounts described in some books of the Old Testament. Sometimes, my eyes would glaze over (or close) listening to an interminable list of names which didn’t seem really relevant to what I’d assumed the Bible story should be, and going through today’s Gospel passage gave me the same feeling. (It also made me remember that a priest had once joked he dreaded whenever he had to read the passage, since it would usually be part of every year’s Gospel readings.)

But one of the Bible in a Year (BIY) reflections which stuck with me was that our Lord cares for every single one of us – a fact that seems cliched and cheesy, but one we tend to forget both for ourselves and those around us. The podcast also constantly stresses that every single one of us matters, which is powerfully illustrated in today’s Gospel passage. As others have commented, Jesus’s ancestors (and perhaps even his contemporaries who travelled with him and his parents when they went to Jerusalem in his 12th year) included many figures we would regard as flawed and unworthy, which is extremely reassuring and makes Jesus even more accessible to us.

Another insight the BIY podcast provided (albeit one which required regular listening) was showing us how our Lord’s plan for our salvation is threaded throughout the various books of the Bible. The ‘dots’ between today’s readings are also evident, and I found it almost exciting to see how Judah is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy (although the rather startling figure of 14 generations is also a gentle reminder to me of how our Lord works in his own time).  The readings also made me think of my own family tree, and wonder at the stories and journeys throughout the centuries which made me who I am today – and how I can be part of someone else’s story for the future. I am grateful to our Lord, who has been present throughout my past and present, and will try to keep the lessons of today’s Gospel passage in mind as I prepare for my own (massive) family gatherings for Christmas.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jaclyn Lam)

Prayer: Lord, show us how we can cherish our loved ones and those around us, even though we may not always agree with or understand one another. Bless our gatherings for this year-end season.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for the families you have blessed us with.

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