Time and the Lineage of Jesus

Matthew 1: 1-17
Gn 49:2.8-10 / Ps 72

Of her was born Jesus, Who is called the Messiah.
(Matthew 1:17)

Our Lord Jesus’s genealogy
Can be such a puzzling mystery…
But if we look deeply we can see
God’s plan in man’s Salvation History.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez was the father of Hezron, who was the father of Ram, and Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, the father of Salmon; Salmon was the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab; Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth; Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. King David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife; Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus, Who is called the Messiah. Thus there were 14 generations in all from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the exile to Babylon, and 14 from the exile to Jesus. (Matthew 1:1-17)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel of Matthew, he outlines the genealogy of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the lineage of King David, starting from Abraham down to His father Joseph, the husband of Mary. The Gospel writer divides this genealogy of forty generations into three spans: from Abraham to David, from David to the exile in Babylon, and from the exile to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Why did Matthew begin his Gospel with a genealogy of Jesus? This was because he wanted to be consistent with his purpose of writing it for the benefit of the Jews. As the Gospel of Mark was written for the Romans, and Luke wrote for the Greeks, Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews, and his first thesis was to prove to them that Jesus was truly the Messiah, and the descendant of King David (Isa 11:1-2). For the Jews, genealogies were important, to trace one’s lineage as well as tribal affiliation. In this way, Matthew was able to show the genuine “royal pedigree” of the Messiah.

Perhaps St. Matthew also wanted to show that the long passage of time was of no consequence to the Maker of time. Jesus had already existed as far back as the time of Abraham (“Before Abraham was, I am” – John 8:58). God had made a covenant with Abraham and the fulfilment of that promise would come in God’s good time. There is something deep and profound in the way God lets 42 lifetimes elapse before the realization of His divine plans. In the context of God’s infinite nature, generations of man’s earthly history are but a few days.

God wants us to stretch our limited perceptions, as our mortality puts a constraint in the way we perceive time and eternity. Like how ridiculous we must sound to God when we say we cannot go to mass or worship Him in the adoration chapel because we can’t find the time! In fact the most important time in our life is when we are meditating on our God and His infinite goodness. This single lifetime is but a very short passage that we shouldn’t take too seriously—including the things here that we treasure. Instead, we must always keep our focus on the eternal. Time is gold? Only when spent with God.

Lord Jesus, as Your natal day draws near, give us the grace to keep our concept of time’s passage here on earth in the right perspective. Help us to appreciate God’s salvation plan in Bible history, but at the same time to be brave and humble in accepting our limited time here on earth. As the psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days right that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Psalm 90:12.) Amen.

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