Whenever we read Matthew’s gospel of the genealogy of Jesus, 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 people were related. Honestly, I often tuned out as she probed family trees with delight. After she died I realized I had lost connection with countless relatives and people she had firmly stored in her mind.
She wasn’t a professional genealogist, but she would be at home with the study of Jesus’ ancestry in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. She would want to know how all those people in the 13th century picture above were related.
The gospel genealogies are not mere formalities, official records proving Jesus’ human identity. Mary and Joseph would have made Jesus aware of these relationships as he grew up among the tight family units of Nazareth. The people of Nazareth knew where they came from.
Jesus would hardly be a protected child, kept safely away from others till his day would come. Jesus knew from the beginning he was part of the human family. His family tree was not just an army of saints, sinners were there for sure. They’re all part of the mystery of his Incarnation.
We will hear about some of his immediate family in the next few days of Advent– Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah, John their son. There were others too we will hear of when he begins his ministry. We shouldn’t be surprised that some of his first disciples were related to him.
Jesus was not an isolated individual, but the Word made flesh, firmly part of the human family he came to save.