Lectio Divina: Matthew 1:1-17
3rd Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son, came among us as one of us,
a human being among other people,
yet Your human face
and the measure of what a human person is.
Lord, make us discover ourselves in His mirror:
that we are born to be free,
to be unselfish, available, committed.
Free us from our selfishness,
our cowardice and attitudes of conformism,
that we may become
what You want us to be, like Your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 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, fourteen generations.
The genealogy defines the identity of Jesus. He is the “Son of David and the son of Abraham” (Mt 1:1; cf 1:17). Son of David, is the response to the expectation of the Jews (2 Sam 7:12-16). Son of Abraham, is a source of blessings for all nations (Gn 12: 13). Both Jews and Pagans see their hope realized in Jesus.
• In the patriarchal society of the Jews, the genealogies indicated only names of men. It is surprising that Matthew indicates also the names of five women among the ancestors of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah) and Mary. Why does Matthew choose precisely these four women as companions of Mary? No queen, no matriarch, none of the fighting women of the Exodus: Why? This is the question which the Gospel of Matthew leaves for us to answer.
• In the life of the four women, companions of Mary, there is something abnormal. The four of them are foreigners, they conceived their sons outside the normal canons and do not respond to the requirements of the Laws of purity of the time of Jesus. Tamar, a Canaanite widow, disguised herself as a prostitute to oblige the Patriarch Judah to be faithful to the law, to do his duty and give her a son (Gen 28:1-30). Rahab, a Canaanite from Jericho, was a prostitute who helped the Israelites enter into the Promised Land (Josh 2:1-21). Ruth, a poor Moabite widow, chose to remain with Naomi and to adhere to the People of God (Ruth 1:16-18). She took the initiative to imitate Tamar and to go and spend the night beside the pile of barley, together with Boaz, obliging him to observe the Law and to give her a son. From the relation between the two, Obed was born, the ancestor of King David (Ruth 3:1-15; 4:13-17). Bathsheba, a Hittite, the wife of Uriah, was seduced, violated and she conceived and became pregnant from King David, who in addition to this ordered that the husband of the woman be killed (2 Sam 11:1-27). The way of acting of these four women did not correspond to the traditional norms. In the meantime these were the initiatives, which were not really conventional, which gave continuity to the lineage of Jesus and led all the people to the salvation of God. All this makes us think and challenges us when we attribute too much value to the rigidity of norms.
• The calculation of 3 X 14 generations (Mt 1:17) has symbolic significance. Three is the number of the divinity. Fourteen is the double of seven. Seven is the perfect number. By means of this symbolism Matthew expresses the conviction of the first Christians according to which Jesus appears in the time established by God. With his coming history reaches its plenitude, its fullness.
4) Personal questions
What is the message to be discovered in the genealogy of Jesus? Have you found a response to what Matthew leaves for us ?
• The companions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, are very different from how we imagined them. What is the conclusion you can draw regarding your devotion to the Blessed Virgin?
5) Concluding Prayer
May His name be blessed forever,
and endure in the sight of the sun.
In Him shall be blessed every race in the world,
and all nations call Him blessed. (Ps 72:17)