Advent, December 17th

We’re now just a week away from Christmas, and in the last week of Advent the liturgy starts to reflect that we’re in the home stretch. Today’s Gospel is the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew, and Matthew wants to start salvation history through Our Lord’s family tree. Through his family on earth God in His Son has become part of human history in order to redeem all of humanity. His Incarnation and birth are the fulfillment of the promises God has made throughout salvation history, and Matthew acknowledges this using genealogical language.

In calling Jesus the “son of Abraham” is he showing Our Lord to be the inheritor of the promise God made to Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed (see Genesis 12:2–3). This in part is why Jesus’ family tree not only includes Jews, but those from other nations as well, such as Ruth. In calling Jesus the son of David and the Christ Matthew is testifying that Jesus is the answer to the promise recalled in today’s First Reading: Judah in his descendants would reign (the symbolism of the scepter and mace) and receive tribute and homage without end. The Lion of Judah mentioned in the First Reading is Jesus because he fulfills that promise. King David was a descendant of Judah, and Our Lord is a descendant of David: the Lord promised David through the prophet Nathan that his dynasty would endure forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12–16), and in Christ Our King it does.

We consider Abraham our father in faith because it was thanks to his faith that the promises were fulfilled. Mary receives a prominent place in this family tree thanks to her fiat that made her the Mother of God and of Our Savior. We’ve been adopted into this wonderful family through faith and baptism; let’s strive for a place of honor in it as well through a life of faith.

Readings: Genesis 49:2, 8–10; Psalm 72:1–2, 3–4ab, 7–8, 17; Matthew 1:1–17.