Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

(Genesis 49:2.8-10; Matthew 1:1-17)

The recurrent symmetry of Jesus’ genealogy will make some readers jump to the more conventional narrative of the gospel. But dutifully considered, the list conveys a story rich in meaning.

Matthew’s genealogy highlights Jesus’ descent both from Abraham, whose descendants God promised to make a blessing to all nations, and from David, who consolidated Israel into a respected kingdom. Thus, it relates a sense of Jesus as the royal Messiah whom God sends to lead the human race into glory.

The list also indicates the world’s readiness for salvation as it divides Jesus’ ancestors in three groups of fourteen generations. Matthew uses the convention of fourteen (two times seven) articles to indicate double fulfillment. As Jesus completes three sets of fourteen generations, we should see him as the apex of history. He has delivered the world from the dark age of sin into a new age of grace.

Finally, the series refers to five valiant women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “the wife of Uriah”, and Mary. These heroines corroborate the reality that God often works through the virtue of humans to accomplish His ends.