Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday word, 17 Dec 2007

Advent Monday3 (17 Dec 2007) Gn 49. 2,8-10; Ps 72; Mt 1. 1-17
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Satisfying Suspicions

Synagogue worship focused on God’s revelation, and readings from torah, the Hebrew scriptures, were read in a regular sequence. Because the majority of Jews no longer understood Hebrew, the reader of the sacred text would translate it on the spot, making it clearer and connecting it with the contemporary hearers. These Aramaic translations were written, and we have several.

The reading we heard from Genesis, the beginning of Jacob’s farewell to and blessing of his 12 sons, remembered Judah. The Aramaic rendering of it focused on the “determined time the King Messiah [would] come,” reason for all the descendants of Jacob to “purify” themselves, that is, to make their ways of living correspond more closely to God’s heart.

Matthew began his gospel with Jesus’ genealogy, his lineage. Jesus is immediately identified as Messiah (the Christ in Greek), who is son of David and son of Abraham.
Being a descendant of Abraham connected Jesus with the whole people. But Matthew’s community needed more. They needed the prophetic credentials of Jesus as Messiah, and his relation to David, the king and the house God promised never to leave, satisfied the community for whom Matthew wrote his gospel.

Plus, Jesus’ parentage was suspect. Luke focused on Mary in his gospel, who crisply stated the problem: “How can this be?” Matthew focused on Joseph and his annunciations by angels and in dreams. Even before introducing Joseph’s annunciations, Matthew offered four female ancestors of Jesus: Tamar; Rahab; Ruth; and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. All were sexually suspect and outsiders to Israel, and God worked mightily through them.

God works mightily even now. Jesus’ genealogy suggests we consider how God works in our lives, choosing us as envoys of God’s son, our Messiah, who will come again.
Wiki-image of Wisdom is in the public domain. Today the Church recalls the Messiah personified wisdom.

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