To the slothful, the first seventeen verses of the Gospel according to Matthew might appear an absurd series of who-sires-whom yet for the diligent they are an absolute theological treat. The very phrase with which the Gospel begins – Βίβλος γενέσεως (Book of Genesis) takes us all the way back to the first book of the Scripture i.e. Genesis. Matthew ends his genealogical account with Jesus signifying that whatever did so far occur in history was essentially a preparation for the birth of Christ the telos (Col. 1:16). In Christ, history is baptized.
The genealogy of Jesus isn’t a flawless one but an “odd assortment of idolaters, murders, incompetents, power-seekers, and harem-wastrels.” We do not find in it persons whom we often state as the paragon of righteousness; for instance, Joseph, Esau, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and so on. Surprisingly we find in it mostly sinful, faithless and insignificant people. However, it is them that Christ uses for the salvation of the world.
This is exactly why this passage is read the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ. What could be more hopeful this Advent season than to be reminded of the fact that God chooses broken and imperfect people to fulfill His purpose! As Raymond Brown observes; “A sense of being unimportant and too insignificant to contribute to the continuation of the story of Jesus Christ in the world is belied by the genealogy and the proclamation of that genealogy in the Advent liturgy is designed to give us hope about our destiny and our importance.”
Finally, the genealogy of Christ is the firm attestation of the invincible nature of the Kingdom of God. No human force can possibly impede its dawn. Breaching all the evil of the world it will most surely appear.
Dayroyo Fr. Basil
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