Monday of the Third Week in Advent
(Genesis 49:2.8-10; Matthew 1:1-17)
Some people would not have this gospel passage read at mass because names like Shealtiel are too hard to pronounce. Others don’t see the point of all the “begatting” as an older translation had it. Perhaps a few pious people are scandalized by the reference to cruel characters like King Rehoboam . This son of Solomon when counseled to relieve the tax burden his father imposed responded by promising to increase taxes tenfold. Thus, he precipitated the breakup of Israel into two kingdoms. A few people might also ask, what is the point of mentioning the ancestors of Jesus like Achim and Eliud who are not known in any other part of the Bible?
St. Matthew, however, thought the whole list of names important. He recognized that it not only shows Jesus’ human and kingly origins, but indicates something else almost as significant. For Matthew God works through sinful and even incompetent people as well as great ones to produce His just ends. He patiently and diligently saves humans from their sins by the agency of all kinds of people.
We, who may doubt God’s plan or even question the existence of God, should take note. Evil is present everywhere, but God constantly turns it over for positive results. We cannot exclude ourselves from His work. That is, we cannot use our shortcomings, be they sins or disabilities, as an excuse not to act on God’s behalf. We have to call others by word and example to join the Church in her work of salvation.