Do I know my genealogy? In an exercise on valuing immigrants at a Catholic Relief Services Conference this summer, one of the questions was to name the first names of our grandmothers. Not all of us could do this on the spot. Can I, and you, name your great-grandparents? What is important about having knowledge of our ancestors? I know this Reflection is read globally and I know individuals from a variety of cultures will bring different layers of family knowledge to these questions because of their strong or not so strong value associated with their ancestors. As I type this, I think of two examples – 1) how some Mexicans celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd (Day of the Dead festivities), i.e., they celebrate in cemeteries and are close to their dead loved ones, and, 2) as I currently read the book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, I am reminded of how strong ancestor celebration is among the Hmong population than it is, for example, in the mainstream popular culture in the United States.
What is the genealogy of Mary? As one reads the lengthy Gospel, our lack of knowledge of that confronts one. Tradition informs us, perhaps, of two generations of ancestors.
What are 2010 applications to Joseph’s behaviors, i.e., choosing a solution to prevent another from being shamed and demonstrating courage to follow a dream message? When have I, and you, done compassionate problem-solving with another? When have I, and you, demonstrated decision-making and courage in a situation that called for risk?
There is a theme of the virgin birth in the Gospel relating back to a prophet’s prediction of this in the Old Testament. How does this relate to many religions at that time in that part (and other parts) of the world? In many religions there is the phenomena of a virgin birth related to a god.
Many more questions arise. However, I will focus my reflections on the importance of genealogy and of Joseph’s behaviors. Who am I because of my ancestors? Who was Mary because of her ancestors? How can I apply Joseph’s behaviors daily – maintain my integrity in a compassionate way with another? Recognize when the Spirit is directing me and demonstrate the courage to follow this?
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