In the name of the Father, the Son
and the Holy Ghost.
Every year before Christmas we read
the genealogy of Christ from St. Matthew's Gospels, and for years I
asked myself, why? Why have we got to read all these names that mean
so little to us, if anything at all? And then I became more
perceptive of what they convey to us.
For one thing, they are the people
to whose family the Lord Jesus Christ belongs through His humanity.
They all are relatives of His, and this should be enough for us to
find their names deeply moving: Christ is of their blood, Christ is
of their family. Each of them, thinking of the Mother of God can say,
'She is a child of our family', and of Christ, 'He also is a child
of our family, although He is our God, our Saviour, the very Divine
Presence in our midst'. Furthermore, some names stand out: names of
Saints, heroes of the spirit, and names of sinners.
The Saints among them could well
teach us what it means to believe; not simply to have an
intellectual faith, a world-outlook which coincides, as far as it is
able, with God's vision, but a faith which means a complete trust in
God, an unlimited faithfulness to Him, the readiness, because of
what we know of God, to give our lives for what He stands for, for
what He is. In this context think of Abraham whose faith was tested
to the utmost. How difficult we find it to give to God something of
ours: but Abraham was asked to bring as a blood-offering his own son
Ч and he did not doubt God. And Isaac? He surrendered without
resistance, in perfect obedience to his father, and through him Ч to
We can remember the struggle of
Jacob with the Angel in the darkness, as we at times struggle for
our faith, for our integrity, for our faithfulness, in the darkness
of the night, or the darkness of doubt, in the darkness that seizes
us at times on all sides.
But we can also learn something from
those who in history, in the Bible, appear to us as sinners. They
were frail, this frailty conquered them, they had no strength to
resist the impulses of their bodies and of their souls, of the
complex passions of men. And yet Ч and yet, they believed in God
passionately. One of them was David, and one of his Psalms expresses
it so well: "From the deep I cry unto Thee .." From the depths of
despair, of shame, from the depths of his fall, from the depths of
his alienation from God, from the darkest depths of his soul he
still cried to God. He does not hide from Him, he does not go away
from Him, it is to Him he comes with this desperate cry of a
desperate man. And others, men and women have this same concreteness
as, for instance, Rahab the harlot Ч and so many more.
Do we, when we are at the darkest
point of life, when we are wrapped in all the darkness that is
within us Ч do we, from within this darkness turn to God and say: It
is to You, oh Lord, I cry! Yes Ч I am in darkness, but You are my
God. You are the God who created the light, and the darkness, and
You are within the darkness as You are within the blinding light;
You are in death as You are in life; You are in hell, as You are on
the Throne; and from wherever I am I can cry to You.
And then, there is a last thing I
would like you to think about. To us these people are names; of some
of them we know a little from the Bible, about others we know
nothing. But they all were concrete human beings, men and women like
us, with all our frailty and all our hope, all the wavering of the
will and all the hesitations, all the incipient love that is so
often marred, and yet remains light and fire. They are concrete and
real, and we can read their names with the feeling, that, Yes Ч I
don't know you, but you are one of those who are of the family of
Christ, concrete, real, who through all the vicissitudes of life,
inner and outer, belong to God. And we ourselves can try and learn,
in the concreteness of our lives, whether we are frail or strong at
a given moment still to be God's own.
So let us reflect on this genealogy,
let us next time we come to hear it receive it with a spark in our
eyes, with a warm feeling in our hearts; but this will be possible
only to the extent to which Christ becomes more and more real to us
and when it is in Him, through Him that we discover them all Ч real,
living, our own and God's own. Amen.