Daily Reflection
September 8th, 2005

Michele Millard

Cardoner at Creighton
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Memorial of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary
Micah 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30
Psalm 13:6ab, 6c
Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

What defines a person? Matthew, in his genesis of the New Testament, tells the story of the entrance of Jesus into the world and tries to define who he is to his Jewish readers. He begins with his lineage, a particularly important piece of information for establishing his credentials as a bonafide Messiah. I think most of us glaze over when this genealogy is read, filled with strange and unfamiliar names. But if we took the time to actually look at this list, we’d learn a lot about who Jesus is and why he came. It begins with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people and interestingly enough, he includes a lot of interesting characters in the mix. Of course, the biggies are in there. . .like Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and David, highlighting his rich, kingly Jewish heritage. Included, surprisingly, are ancestors that are of more dubious character, like Tamar and Rahab, gentile women with questionable backgrounds. Uriah is mentioned as the husband of Bathsheba, mother of Solomon via her dalliances with King David. The scattering of Israel as it was carried into captivity is followed by the list of kings who brought her back. Fourteen generations are listed as they bring us to Joseph, a poor carpenter in the small town of Nazareth who was to act as the legal father of Jesus. What an ancestry! The list includes kings and commoners, Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners.

Matthew also identified Jesus through the names given to him. To be called, only means, according to the Hebrew manner of speaking, that the person spoken of shall really and effectually be what he is called, and actually fulfill that title. He is to be called Jesus, a derivative of Joshua, meaning savior. He is also called Christ, the anointed one and the son of David, as it was prophesied. Ultimately, he was to be called Emmanuel, or God with us. He is identified as coming from the Holy Ghost, divine origin into a human world. These names identify not only what he was to be called, but who he was and why he came.

What is our identity? What is in our lineage? By what names are we called? I am a compilation of who my ancestors were and what they did with it certainly being a mixed bag; a pirate, revolutionaries, immigrants, farmers, businesspeople, as well as simple people of faith. I am called by my name (Michele), by my roles (professional, counselor, pastor, mother, wife) and by my faith (Christian). Those are names and titles that define who I am and how I am called to be in this world. As I understand myself more fully, I am able to “come into my own” and share myself with others. When I more fully come into the role and ultimate identity of “Christian,” I essentially become an heir to the identity of Christ, reflecting more completely who he is and what he does. As “Christian,” I become a reflection of Emmanuel. As “Christian,” I become a reflection of “God with us” in this world. We are called to identify with Christ and to take on his identity as our own. That is ultimately how I want to be defined.

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