Scripture: Lectionary 194 Advent Meditation: Genesis 49:2.8-10. Psalm 72:3-4.7-8.17. Matthew 1:1-17
Stories are very frequent in the Bible and they are the golden thread of our own lives. They are remembered and they help us to have hope for the future. The prophet Isaiah has been helping us with the virtue of hope which resides in our memory. We recall the stories of salvation that begin in the first book of the Bible and the Torah—Genesis. Today the story comes near the end of Genesis and it is the blessings of Jacob upon his twelve sons. They are at the same time being described by their father. Judah is the firs and the one whom we concentrate on in today’s first reading. He becomes the progenitor of those who will belong to the kingly line of Judah’s land; they will also be the line in which messianic promises from God are to be fulfilled.
It is King David who becomes the greatest of this lineage, yet the messianic line continues on and is always the hope for Israel and for those who see the promise being fulfilled in Jesus, the son of Mary of Nazareth. Both Jews and Christians see a prophetic announcement in Jacob’s blessing over Judah, but see it in a different way. We Christians associate the passage with Jesus as the Anointed One of God, the Messiah.
That is why Matthew starts the genealogy of Jesus through the Davidic lineage by starting with the blessing of Jacob (Israel) in Genesis 49:8-10.
It is Matthew who helps us to prepare during this Advent for the first coming of the Messiah in the birth of Jesus. He traces for us, through his knowledge of the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures), and leads us to the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham through David and down through the anointed ones of Judah. An important verse about his mother Mary is the following: “It was of her that Jesus who is called the Messiah was born.” This is the first explicit reference to the virgin birth.
Joseph is mentioned as the husband of Mary, but is not said to have begat Jesus in the long string of begats that set up the ancestors of the royal lineage.
All beginning lines of Scripture are important and they help us to grasp the stories that will follow. In Matthew’s inscription we read: “A family record of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” (Matt.1:1) The evangelist then divides the genealogy into three sets of fourteen, possibly a symbol for the name David which is equivalent in the Hebrew to the numerical value of fourteen. Mary has the more significant role but it is through Joseph’s acceptance of her that Jesus is legally a descendant of David. Thus from an extraordinary marriage the Messiah is borh of the Virgin Mary being prophesied through the Davidic lineage.
As we ponder over this inspired writing of Matthew, we look toward Mary helping us in our faith to understand the mystery of Jesus as Messiah and Savior. Her trust and confidence in God’s promises enable her to risk as a virgin to bring forth a child. Only with God was this possible and only through our faith can we ponder over it and accept it in our own time. Amen.