December 24, 2023
Matthew 1: 1-25
Merry Christmas to you All!!!
MERRY is a word derived from the old English MYRIGE meaning pleasant or agreeable. While the name CHRISTMAS got its name from Mass of Christ. Therefore, MERRY CHRISTMAS simply means being as happy as you can during this time of the year when you can celebrate.
The great thing about Christmas is that it is a joyous occasion for everyone. Meaning we all gather to celebrate. Paradoxically, Christmas has its root in Christianity who honors the birth of Jesus Christ, nevertheless it has become a day for everybody, Catholics to non-Catholics, Christians to non-Christians, we all join to celebrate, either by sharing a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a sandwich, or whatever people of every culture do to celebrate, in Kenya, some communities would share Chapati or slaughter a goat/chicken.
We also exchange Christmas cards or gifts. I remember when we were growing up, when we would visit a relative during the Christmas season, one would be given a chicken to take home as a Christmas gift for the visit; you can imagine what it meant for a child to own a chicken!!!
In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. Truly, the way of God is so unique and incomprehensible. That is why tonight becomes different from all nights. The General Norms for the Liturgical Year, number 32 tells us that “Next to the yearly celebration of the paschal mystery, the Church holds most sacred the memorial of Christ’s birth and early manifestations.” Tonight, reminds us of the very beginning of human salvation history. Prior to that, a lot of prophecies were made by different prophets. Tonight, the prophecies are being fulfilled in the genealogy of Jesus as the Gospel passage tells us. It indicates that God does not abandon his people forever.
In the genealogy, one striking thing to consider is the mention of the names of four women: Tamar who sold herself as prostitute to her father-in law Judah (Gen 38); Rahab, the Gentile prostitute (Joshua 2; 6:22-23); Ruth, a Moabite and Gentile (Ruth 1); Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba), an adulteress and infamous for her sin with David (2Sam 11). Women are rarely mentioned in ancient genealogies. The importance of these four is to show that Jesus Christ is not royalty according to human perception because he does not have a pure aristocratic background as the Gospel tells us. It also shows that surely, God does not look at appearance but the heart (1Sam 16:7).
A proverb among the Asante people of Ghana says literally that “if you forget the sound of the horn of your paramount chief, you get lost at the durbar (court).” Matthew does not want human beings to forget the history of our salvation. In the genealogy, he mentions these four women to show that Jesus, right from his genealogy, identifies himself with sinners. Christ’s incarnation is to redeem the fallen being. It is all about God’s love. Choosing Mary to be the mother of his Son is something human mind cannot comprehend. In fact, God does not use those who qualify, but qualifies those he uses. This is the witness that St Paul bears about Christ, the Son of David, in the 2nd Reading. May this love of God made manifest in our history fill our hearts.
Matthew 1: 1-25
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.
David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.