We begin the days near Christmas reading the genealogy of Jesus from St. Matthew’s gospel which traces his descent to David and further back to Abraham ( Matthew 1,1-17). Whenever we read this gospel, filled with so many unfamiliar names, many hard to pronounce, I am reminded of my mother. She had a remarkable memory for relationships, whether her own family relations or how other families were related. Honestly, I often tuned out as she probed with delight family trees. After she died I realized I had lost my connection with countless relatives she had firmly in mind.
She wasn’t a professional genealogist, but she would be at home with Matthew and Luke who begin their study of Jesus by tracing his ancestry in their gospels.
This is not a superfluous project the evangelists are engaged in. They are intent on describing the Incarnation of Jesus. He wasn’t isolated from humanity, above it all, but he was part of the human family. And his family tree was not an army of saints; sinners are there for sure.
We will hear from some of his saintly forbears in the next few days, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah. But let’s not forget the others.They are his family too. He loved them all.