December 17, 2022
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's Jesuit Community
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 193

Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalm 72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17
Matthew 1:1-17

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          Psalm response: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.

          This gospel passage is one of the most off-putting in the whole New Testament, to the point that we almost literally close our ears to it when we hear it read in church, and yet there is much more to it than a list of men’s names, most of them probably invented.  Matthew is trying to tie Jesus to Abraham by that series, and the number and arrangement of those names has a significance which I won’t go into. 
          So what are four women doing in this list?  Tamar (Genesis 38:1-2) is at the center of the story of Onan, Rahab (Joshua chapters 2 and 6) is a harlot in Jericho who helps the Hebrews enter and conquer Palestine, Ruth was a non-Jew who is one of the most attractive women in the Bible but would have been repudiated and sent away by the righteous (Ezra 9:10-12 and 10:2-44; Nehemiah 13:23-30), and Bathsheba was the victim of David’s lust, causing him to commit murder (2 Samuel 12). 
          All of them were unclean, sinners or attached to sinners, and yet Matthew features them – and not Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, or Judith – in his attempt to show the bond God forged with our human flesh; this was with women, and such women!  God reaches out to all of us, to those whom our society and our vision of what is good and fitting for him will not accept, and he joins all humans to himself by that “bond which can never be broken” – not to those who think themselves entitled to his love but to those who need it and live in it... 

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