Thursday, December 16, 2010

May All the Nations Regard Him as Favored

December 17, 2010
Friday of the Third Week of Advent

By Melanie Rigney

(Jacob told his sons :) “The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, while tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage.” (Genesis 49:10)

May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun, may his name endure. May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name; may all the nations regard him as favored. (Psalms 72:17)

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:17)

Lord, I remember those who have gone before me. May they rest peacefully with You.

In the days that I had spare time, I was somewhat of an amateur genealogist, serving as one of the first contributing editors to Family Tree Magazine. Relatives of my maternal grandfather or I have traced that part of the family back nearly thirty generations, to the Plantagenets in England. There’s nobody famous in our lines, mainly farmers who worked hard along with the occasional preacher, barkeep, turncoat, judge, or bear-fighter (that would be my great-great-great-grandmother Polly Bennett Smith). Some lived for days; other to be more than 100. Some became parents before they were fourteen; others, in their forties. And yet, I draw strength from them all and the challenges they faced—sometimes well, sometimes not so well.

In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew takes great pains to detail the genealogy of Jesus to show his birth as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. That genealogy includes good people and bad, those who lived godly lives and those who didn’t. In particular, the New American Bible notes:

The women Tamar, Rahab and Ruth and the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba, bore their sons through unions that were in varying degrees strange and unexpected. These “irregularities” culminate in the supreme “irregularity” of the Messiah’s birth of a virgin mother; the age of fulfillment is inaugurated by a creative act of God.

It says so much about God—and the way in which He desires that we conduct our lives—that the Savior he sent came from humble and moneyed people, from good and bad. Jesus’s genealogy is richly tapestried. The regular and the irregular alike would inform his time on earth, healing the sick, comforting the poor, dining with tax collectors. He loved them, “irregularities” notwithstanding. He loves us all, “irregularities” notwithstanding.

Confront your own definition of “irregular” events. Where can you find God in the humanity associated with those events?