The Genealogy of Jesus
We are already on the second day of our simbang gabi. Today’s gospel passage introduces us to the biblos geneseos, also known as the book of generation, or genealogy of Jesus. This shows us that Jesus, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, became man and entered our history through the mediation of humankind or the network of human families. If you notice, there are five women included in the list as mothers to some of Jesus’ ancestors: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathseba and Mary. What St. Matthew had done by including them in the list is a big, big ‘no’ for the Jews in the sense that most of them, if not all, were sinners and foreigners because they all bore sons out of questionable union or wedlock. Try to look at their individual background it seems that they are not good to hear also. Like for example: Tamar, who got married to the two sons of Judah and herself was impregnated by her father-in-law; Rahab was a Canaanite harlot; Ruth, a Moabite woman and therefore a foreigner; Bathseba, the mother of King Solomon with whom King David committed adultery; Mary conceived a son without mating a man, an scandalous one and this is punishable by death through stoning. Why this is so?
This is to show to us that the whole story of humankind is in need of healing and salvation. This is also to show to us that although Jesus was born as a Jew but He is not only for the Jewish people and the good ones but also for non-Jews and sinners. Later on He says: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners,” (Matt 9:13). And also in the last verses in the Gospel of St. Matthew, we find out that Jesus is sending His apostles into the whole world to proclaim the good news to all and make them His disciples.
It is true that most of us want to identify ourselves with the good ones, respected, honorable and the renowned ones of our relatives and friends because in them we find meaning of our lives and with them we establish better relationships. But how about with those who are not so good relatives and friends of ours, what are we going to do with them? You know, there is a tendency for us to keep quiet and not to mention their names, if possible, with other people that they are our relatives and friends. But in the case of our Lord, He does not keep quiet; He is not ashamed to tell us that His ancestors are mixtures of saints and sinners; adulterer, prostitute, betrayer and foreigner; kings, peasants, men and women. Like Jesus, let us claim these, not so good ones, as ours. If we are proud of the good ones, let us thank God for giving the not so good ones because in this sense we can forgive them and offer them to God.
That is why we, Filipinos, are family oriented. We are a family-centered people (Catechism for Filipino Catholics no. 34). We value so much our families. We work so hard just for the sake of our families and we value relationships too in the family. One concrete example is our family reunions. During this occasion, there are games and plays to add color to the affair, preparation of food, drinking is not absent, video-karaoke and many more. But of course, sharing stories of experiences for the past months or for a year is also present even in an informal way.
The evidence is also convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we’re having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job.
In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the “typical” millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you’ll enhance your opportunity to succeed (from Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989).
The Filipino family is also meal-oriented (CFC no. 37). We love to eat together as a family. I remember when I was still a child my mother and father would not start the eating if one of us was not present at the table. We talked and encouraged each other during family eating. This family eating made us at home with one another. In relationship to the Eucharistic banquet too, when we were children, we went together to our chapel for a Bible Service with Communion if without a Mass during Sundays since my father is our Lay Cooperator too, the one who presides it even up to now. We got our strength and spiritual nourishment from this Eucharistic gathering. That is why in the apostolic exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis (no. 79), he had this to say to each one of us: “I encourage families in particular to draw inspiration and strength from this Sacrament.”
To end, Fr. Patrick Payton says: ‘The family that prays together stays together.”