“The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.” - Saint John Damascene: (675 – 749: was a Syrian monk and priest)
Gospel Text: (Mt 1:1-16, 18-2)
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.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
Matthew's genealogy of Jesus tells a story involving long and complicated names with less-than-noble pedigrees. We might expect to hear how Jesus, the King of Kings, descended from a long line of upright and virtuous kings. It starts off promising with the familiar and popular Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we soon hear about less familiar Gentile women – the wily Tamar, the prostitute Rahab and the loyal Ruth. Why mention Gentile women in the genealogy of the King of Jews? Then Matthew mentions Uriah, reminding us of how David sent him to his death after impregnating his wife, Bathsheba. Why reference such an ugly incident when relating the genealogy of the Light of the World?
The short answer is because Matthew is telling the truth. And sometimes the truth is unpopular or ugly. This is especially true when the truth deals with our past, our family (or evolutionary) histories. But then Matthew concludes his genealogy on a note of hope. He writes, "they shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us'" and so reminds us of a greater truth – that despite our less-than-noble lineages and pasts, God has been and is with us. St. Paul knew this when he wrote that all things work for good for those who love God. Our messy and ugly pasts have shaped and formed who we are now. Can we rejoice in the Lord knowing that God has been and is with us now? As we celebrate the birth of Mary, we find new hope in our often messy and ugly world while being reminded of God's presence among us.