Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, ancestry websites and software started to gain popularity.
Many people really got into researching where they came from, and would proudly talk about finding out how they were Queen Victoria's third cousin, 8 times removed.
But almost never would a person divulge all the bad things their ancestors had done.
Even I would not tell our family secrets to my closest friends. They might not believe that such scoundrels were in my family.
So what has this to do with Jesus?
In the third Monday of Advent’s Gospel, we read Matthew 1:1-17, the ancestry of Jesus from the times of Abraham, all the way to Jesus’s birth.
Let’s face it, many people get bored by listening to this Gospel. I am sure this is what goes through their minds: "What does it have to do with me? What about those names? Who were those people? Can we skip it next year?"
Why? Maybe because we really have not read the Old Testament. Or if we have, we don’t understand some of the things Matthew is trying to convey.
For example, Matthew wrote for a first century Jewish audience. For them, numbers (14 is a multiple of 7, the perfect number), blood relationships, ancestry and DNA, were super important.
There are some details about the way he tells us the ancestry: “Abraham the father of Jacob…”, “David the father of Solomon”…
Once in a while, he would include the mothers as well: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab”. Note, the father was always included.
Now, look at this: “…Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus”. (Mt 1:16)
Matthew tells us here that Jesus was the son of Mary. And Joseph was not genetically related to Jesus.
And what about some of “those” relatives?
Ruth was a foreigner. Tamar, literally “tricked” her father in law to sire her sons. Rahab was a prostitute. King David and Bathsheba were adulterers.
This is not about doing dirty laundry at home. Here the dirty laundry is being displayed for all of us to see.
Could it be that Matthew is showing us that God writes straight in crooked lines?
God always delivers His promises regardless of our sinfulness. His Mercy will come to us if we allow it to work in us. And His salvation is coming in the person of Jesus, whose birthday we will celebrate a week from today!
Merry Christmas y'all!