What's in a name?

Readings for Thursday December 17, 2009

First Reading: Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations. (Mt 1:17)

In today's gospel we read the genealogy of Jesus going all the way back to Abraham. The writer Matthew starts his gospel by showing that Jesus has the family history to be the Messiah. It is interesting how Matthew does this first, before even going into the life, death and resurrection of Christ; the first thing that he does is show the credibility of Christ. It is my understanding that family genealogy and history were important at that time, so it would make since that Matthew would include this in the beginning. Sometimes, even today, people want to know your background before they even open themselves up to you now; I imagine this concept was especially true of Matthew's time.

Many of us may skip over or breeze through reading this passage of the bible, I mean after all who just wants to read through a bunch of names, how is that going to help us? I used to feel that same way, but as I was going through a bible study last year and going over some of these sections which just listed name after name, I realized a few things: 1) It is important to know where we have been before we can know where we are going; 2) Each person in this world has a purpose; and 3) Going through the names/history is what helps us see how God's plan unfolded since the beginning. It is this last point that believe that we can draw a great deal of wisdom from. As we read through those names it is important to realize that between those generations there was a lot of time that had gone on and even many periods where people just lost hope; but even throughout all of the time and the tragedies, God still had a plan. Each day, each year, and each generation was one step closer to reaching the pinnacle of that plan ... the birth of the Messiah.

This advent season, let us remember and reflect on the fact that like God had a plan for His people throughout history, and He especially had a plan for those who were listed in the genealogy of Jesus. It is important for us to remember and trust that God has a plan for us as well, and even though we may not understand or completely see the big picture it is important to trust God who sees all things and can see the big picture in our lives and in the world.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you so much for all that you have given and all that you do. Lord, help us this advent season to grow in love and trust in you. We pray for all of our soldiers overseas who are away from their families right now, may they stay safe and return all for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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