We don’t read the genealogy of Jesus as written by St. Luke all that often. We are much more likely to read the genealogy that is found at the opening of St. Matthew’s Gospel. More than once, I have been asked why the church includes such readings in the Lectionary for Mass. Is there anything really important about such passages?
The answer, of course, is that the entire Gospel, even the parts that might seem rather tedious, is important. St. Luke’s genealogy is different than St. Matthew’s. While St. Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham, St. Luke takes us all the way back to Adam. Matthew was Jewish; Luke was a Gentile. Matthew wrote to illustrate that Jesus was the new Jewish leader, replacing Moses. Luke wrote to tell his community that Jesus was a member of the human family, the family to which we all belong, Jew and Gentile alike.
So what can we take away from this list of names? Actually, I would like to enumerate five things that I found in an article on line.
First of all, this genealogy, like all Biblical genealogies tells us that our faith is rooted in history. Our religion and our faith are not the product of an overactive imagination. God acts through history.
Secondly, because Luke takes care to root Jesus through Nathan, the son of David, this genealogy tells us that Jesus is descended from kings. Jesus is a king both theologically as well as biologically.
Thirdly, this genealogy tells us that God is orderly, that God keeps lists. We can be sure that somewhere, God has a list that has our name on it.
Fourth, the fact that all these names are recorded tells us that God knows my name, your name, our names. Names are important to God.
Finally, this genealogy, in tracing Jesus back to Adam, tells us that salvation is for all people. That’s important. No one is excluded. That alone should tell us how to relate to one another.
The news media has reported that one of the more fashionable Christmas gifts this year was to give someone a Ancestry DNA kit to trace our true ethnic background. So consider this morning’s Gospel a gift from God, for it tells you your spiritual ethnicity.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator