First Reading GN 49:2, 8-10
Jacob called his sons and said to them: “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.
“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him? 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.”
Gospel MT 1:1-17
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.
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 Christ, fourteen generations.
The author of the Gospel of Matthew is often credited as writing to a primarily Jewish audience; in this case we see the importance of the tribe of Judah, and the genealogy of Jesus coming from that tribe. This was important to establish the authority of Jesus to the Jewish population, who was historically wary of outsiders.
What purpose does this lengthy genealogy serve for us today? Note that Jesus is linked to this genealogy through Joseph, but if we consider a virgin birth, for a biological genealogy perhaps it would have made more sense to do it through Mary’s line. Jesus enters Joseph’s line through a type of adoption. Jesus, in turn, claims us as his own, thereby entering us into this lineage through adoption. Hence we all become “children of Abraham” in the sense of inheriting God’s love and being assured we are valued, even though we may not be Jewish.
Adoption is a special form of family making, based on choice and not by accident. It is intentional. Many of the oppressed in our world today have been abandoned by their families of origin, and get their true support from their own “adopted” families of people whom they met in the world, and who care about them.
As we look forward to the days when God will gather all creation together once again, take solace in knowing that God has a very special genealogy with your name on it! We have all become part of the family, and this kind of genealogy is immutable and divine.
Great creator and Father of us all, we praise your blessed name. We give you your rightful thanks for adopting us into your family in love. Please help guide us to be mindful of our family members in this life and the next, and help us to adopt a spirit of charity and love for each human being and all of your greater creation. Amen.