Friday of the Second Week of Christmas
(I John 5:5-13; Luke 3:23-38)
Today’s gospel presents the Lucan version of Jesus’ genealogy. We should not be too surprised to hear that it differs in many respects from the more familiar version in St. Matthew. For one thing, it starts with Jesus and goes backwards all the way to Adam. Matthew’s genealogy works the other way around beginning with Abraham and proceeding down to Jesus. As expected then, Luke’s version is longer. It names seventy-six generations where Matthew’s has only forty-two.
A striking difference between the genealogies comes in the listing between David and Joseph. Matthew follows the line of kings where Luke uses a more obscure route to Joseph. Some theologians have postulated that Luke actually records the genealogy through Mary with Heli being the father-in-law of Joseph. However, this harmonizing theory presumes that the genealogies are to be understood as having historical accuracy.
As in the case of the infancy narratives, we should pay more attention to the similarities than to the differences. They both claim that Jesus is a Jew, a descendant of Abraham. They both indicate that he was of Davidic lineage with a claim on Jewish royalty. And they both show that he was the adopted, not the physical, son of Joseph. We believe in Jesus because of the apostles’ testimony that his death and resurrection unleashed a bounty of graces. Nothing of his origins or his life conflicts with this assertion. Indeed, all we know about him falls quite in line to what the apostles testified.