Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Many people today enjoy studying their family tree. I, on a regular basis, get an ad on my computer, offering, for pay, information and documentation on individuals who make up my family’s history. This has been an interest that may go back from the early beginnings of the human family on earth. At times, families are surprised to discover some of the characters who are included in their storyline. "My great, great, great uncle is said to have been a pirate".
In our first reading from the book of Genesis, we are told of the blessings or curses that Jacob placed on each of his 12 sons. Today’s reading centers on the blessings Jacob gave to his son Judah. Of his twelve sons, it would be Judah and his descendents that would have great prominence. David would be of the tribe of Judah and from this tribe and the house of David, the Messiah would come.
In our Gospel today, in a more patterned fashion, St. Matthew names, in three groups of fourteen, the ancestors of Jesus. The number fourteen is a doubling of the perfect number seven. St. Matthew is telling us that the time is ripe for the coming of the Messiah.
Embedded in this genealogy is the teaching that God is in control of history. It is not by happenstance that certain people come upon the scene. There is a planned pattern of salvation unfolding at each point along the line. Certain people in the story teach us a specific lesson. There are three foreign women included – Tamar, Ruth and Bathsheba. Each of them had a blight on their character. Their inclusion teaches us that the family of God is formed by including the stranger and foreigner, even people with a "bad reputation". Jesus would teach us the same lesson by associating with sinners and tax collectors, calling them to repentance and giving them a place in his kingdom.
In a male dominated world, these three women also prepare the way for another woman, Mary, and her very special role in God’s plan of salvation.
Today’s readings show us the special preparation that God did for the coming of his son, our Savior, Jesus. The flow of history and its story continue, as Jesus calls millions of others into his kingdom, that he will one day present, perfectly transformed, to his Father as a gift. How wonderful it will be for each of us to be part of that gift.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.