Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Matthew 1: 1-16, 18-23
Mi 5: 1-4a or Rom 8: 28-30 / Ps 13: 6ab, 6c

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


Reading our Lord’s genealogy
Can be such a puzzling mystery…
But if we look deeply we can see
God’s plan includes Mary’s nativity.

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David, and David the father of Solomon, by the wife of Uriah, the Hittite . . . (Matthew 1:1-7)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to divorce her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)

Reflection

Happy birthday, Mama Mary! How blessed is your name forever! But how strange it is that along your genealogical tree, St. Matthew included the names of four women whose common link is their apparent Gentile ancestry: Tamar of Canaan, Rahab of Jericho, Ruth the Moabite and Bathsheba (not mentioned), the wife of Uriah the Hittite. And even stranger still, after naming forty generations of fathers, Matthew ends his genealogy with a mother, the Virgin Mary, who, unlike the four, was pure and without the stain of sin. “Of her was born Jesus, called the Messiah.” (1:17)

Who was Tamar? We encounter her in the book of Genesis ch.38. She was the daughter-in-law of Judah, one of Jacob’s children. She was given in marriage to two of Judah’s sons, Er and Onan, who both died because they offended Yahweh. Fearing that his third son might befall the same fate, Judah did not allow him to marry Tamar. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah, her father-in-law in order to have an heir by him without his knowledge. She bore the twins Perez and Zerah.

“Salmon begot Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…” (1:5). In the book of Joshua (ch.2), we meet Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho. As a Canaanite, she was considered unclean, an outcast. In order to save herself and her family from the invading armies of Israel, she made a pact with the spies of Joshua, whom she hid in her house in Jericho. And yet this prostitute bore Boaz, who was a God-fearing man. Boaz married Ruth, who was another Gentile from the tribe of Moab. Although Ruth was known for her fidelity, piety and moral integrity, (Book of Ruth), nonetheless, she was a Moabite, the tribe descended from the incestious relationship of Lot with his daughters. “The elder daughter bore a son, who was named Moab” (Gen. 19:37). Finally, who doesn’t know Bathsheba, the beautiful wife of Uriah, one of the pagan officers of King David? He lusted for her when he spotted her bathing from his rooftop, and because of her, David committed two great sins of murder and covetousness. He caused the death of her husband in order to have her. From her came King Solomon, although renowned for his great wisdom, also fell from God’s favor.

Today, we learn that the Messiah was descended from two prostitutes, another from a tribe produced from incest, and from an adulteress. What does all this tell us? Simply that Jesus Christ, the King of kings in heaven and on earth, was destined to become human, and the friend of sinners and even “outsiders” (Gentiles). He Himself said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt.9:13). But the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is sinless, therefore God willed that He be born also by a sinless Mother, that all may know that Jesus is primarily God Himself. That is why we honor Mary, and the purity of her own nativity today.

Thank You, Father God, for giving us Mary, the sinless Mother of Your Son, to be our Mother. May our generations be blessed through her loving intercession. Amen.

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