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December 17th – Advent
Readings: Gen 49:2, 8-10; Mt 1:1-17.
Reading 1 (Gen 49:2, 8-10):
Jacob called his sons and said to them:
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel, your father.
“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him?
The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him,
and he receives the people’s homage.”
Gospel (Mt 1:1-17):
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,
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: The Messiah was born in human history.
The faith of people in the Messiah isn’t an abstract faith, such as believing in a god that had no origin; but as a faith in the one who has genealogy in human history. The Messiah was promised by God from the beginning and kept repeating in Jewish history. Scripture called this is God’s plan of salvation.
This plan existed from the beginning and was revealed for human beings right after Adam and Eve committed their sin against God in the garden, when God declared His punishment for the snake: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15).
Through Jewish history, God continually prepared for His plan of salvation. We can see a glimpse of this plan in today readings. In the first reading, the forefather Jacob specially blessed Judah’s descendants, because he foresaw the day this tribe will appear kings to govern all of his brothers. Jacob also predicted the Messiah shall come from Judah’s tribe. In the Gospel, the evangelist Matthew began his Gospel with Christ’s genealogy, the Son of God. Beginning with the generation of the forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to king David’s generation is 14 generations; from king David to the exile is also 14 generations; and from the exile to the Messiah is also 14 generations. Today passage only presented the last period, from the exile to the Messiah’s birthday.
1/ Reading I: Jacob blessed Judah’s descendants.
Chapter 49 of the Book of Genesis is Jacob’s (also called Israel) blessings and last words for his twelve sons. These sons represented for the twelve tribes of Israel. Since Levi was not included in this list because they were priestly tribe, Joseph had two tribes which are Benjamin and Manasseh. Jacob called his children to his deathbed before blessed them: “Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob, and hearken to Israel your father.” Today passage paid attention to Judah’s tribe because the Messiah shall come from this tribe.
1.1/ Judah’s tribe shall govern his brothers: Judah was the only son whom Jacob praised before he blessed him. He blessed Judah and foretold this prophecy about the Judah’s tribe: “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you.Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?”
1.2/ There will be kings of Israel from Judah’s tribe: The time of Jacob was tribal age; there was no king in Israel yet. The leaders of this age were high priests, elders and judges. Israel only had a king about 200 years after Moses’ age, beginning with Saul, then David and Solomon. Jacob was permitted by God to foresee the day which Judah’s descendants will be kings: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
1.3/ The Messiah shall come from Judah’s tribe: Jacob foresaw not only Israel’s kings shall come from the Judah’s tribe, but also the Messiah shall come form this tribe. Though he shall originate from Judah’s tribe, but he is the owner of the ruler’s staff. He shall have dominion not only the Israelites, but also all people of the world.
2/ Gospel: The Messiah shall come form Judah’s tribe.
2.1/ From king David’s generation to the Babylon exile: “Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.” In Jewish history, the age of king Davis was considered the summit of their history because king David had dominion over all twelves tribes of Israel and the boundary of his nation was extended farthest. However, David’s weakness was his adultery with Bathsheba and gave birth to king Solomon. Because of this event, God divided his kingdom by two, and both kingdoms were gradually reduced until the exile. On 587 BC, Judah’s kingdom was completely destroyed, king Jeconiah and all people were on exile to Babylon, and the Israelites almost had no more hope in Jacob’s blessing. They prayed to God on exile:
“Lord, where is thy steadfast love of old, which by thy faithfulness thou didst swear to David? Remember, O Lord, how thy servant is scorned; how I bear in my bosom the insults of the peoples, with which thy enemies taunt, O Lord, with which they mock the footsteps of thy anointed” (Psa 89:50-52).
2.2/ After the Babylon’s exile: In such desperate situation, God continued to work and His plan of salvation is still coming. According to Matthew’s today passage: “And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”
Look at Jesus’ genealogy, the Messiah, we can learn many lessons: (1) Jesus’ ancestors included both holy people (Abraham, Isaac, và Jacob) and sinners (Tamar acted as a harlot in order to have a son with Judah, king David committed adultery with Bathsheba); both those who worshipped God and the one who worshipped many gods as Ruth; both Israelites and Gentile. (2) Though Jewish history reached the summit with king David and Solomon, and felt to the bottom as the exile, God’s promise and Jacob’s blessings continued to happen. We can say God draws a straight line of His plan of salvation on the crooked line of Jewish history. God is the faithful One, whatever He promises, He will do it.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our faith in Jesus the Messiah is not an abstract and vague faith; but a faith that had a deep root in human history which was expressed through Jesus’ genealogy.
– God promised to give the Messiah to people from the beginning, and He continued to prepare and to reveal His plan of salvation through generations. This plan is still working in our generation and shall not stop until the Second Coming of Jesus.
– We should put our complete trust in God through all events of our life. Heaven and earth can change, but God’s promise will never change.