The season of Advent is past; our period of anticipation is complete. The solemnity of the Lord’s birth celebrates the mystery of the incarnation by which the Word of God humbled himself to share our humanity, in order that he might enable us to become sharers in his divinity.
Since the 18th century, it has been commonly taught that the date of Christmas was set in order to counteract a pagan Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” which was celebrated on December 25th. Just after the winter solstice, the year’s shortest day, when it seems that the nights are so long that they will suppress the light of day, Sol Invictus, the Roman sun god, begins to regain strength and the days start to lengthen again — a victory that was cause for rejoicing. It is therefore thought that Christians chose this day because Jesus is one with the true God, who conquers the power of darkness.
The origin of the calendar date, however, is largely irrelevant. The focus of our celebration is to commemorate the cosmic event that occurred in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago: God has taken on flesh and become Emmanuel, “God with us.”
1st Reading – Isaiah 62:1-5
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken,”
or your land “Desolate,”
but you shall be called “My Delight,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
Today’s first reading is an oracle of salvation. As we look forward to the celebration of the birth of the Messiah and his arrival at the end of time, Isaiah looks forward to God breaking his silence after many years of Israel’s exile in Babylon. He points to the glorious future which is in store for the faithful in Zion, the new Jerusalem.
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
The poetic structure of this verse indicates that the names Zion and Jerusalem are interchangeable. The imagery that follows will show that the city represents the entire nation.
Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.
God will not rest until all peoples witness the vindication of his people, their salvation from exile and restoration.
The image of salvation as a welcoming light — seen here as a breaking dawn and a burning torch — echoes Isaiah 58:8 and 60:1-3.
Nations shall behold your vindication, and all kings your glory;
The new Jerusalem will be a beacon for neighboring nations.
you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
Name changes in Scripture indicate a change in destiny; here, the promise of a new name is a promise of recreation. The fact that this name will be spoken directly by God implies a new, elevated status: Israel will have a renewed relationship with God and enjoy enhanced privileges.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God.
This is clear royalty imagery. Note that God does not wear the crown of Jerusalem on his head, which is a human custom that conveys glory and power. Since God is all-powerful, such a gesture would be unnecessary. Rather, he holds his crown, Israel, in his hand, indicating possession and protection.
No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,”
The reading shifts to marriage imagery. “Forsaken” can mean abandoned by one’s husband; “desolate” can mean barren (see Isaiah 54:1).
But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.”
Although his people have violated their covenant relationship with God, he has not forgotten his promises to them. God is always faithful. The people who were once forsaken are now God’s delight; the land that was once barren is newly espoused.
For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.
The metaphor of marriage is perhaps one of the best ways of portraying the passionate love that God has for us and the depths of intimacy with us that he desires.
Here, the bliss of reconciliation of God with his estranged spouse Israel is described. He seems willing to do almost anything to reestablish the covenant bond the human partner has broken, and he will not rest until reconciliation is accomplished.
Since the 6th century, Christian tradition has used this poem in the liturgy of Christmas Day. The birth of Jesus has brought about the joyful union of God and mankind in a way that surpasses the deep intimacy joy of spousal union. A monk of the Middle Ages makes this beautiful comment:
“Like the bridegroom who comes out of his chamber the Lord came down from heaven to dwell on earth and to become one with the Church through his incarnation. The Church was gathered together from among the Gentiles, to whom he gave his dowry and his blessings — his dowry, when God was made man; his blessings, when he was sacrificed for their salvation” (Fausto de Riez, Sermo 5 in Epiphania).
2nd Reading – Acts 13:16-17, 22-25
When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue,
he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said,
“Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the
land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king;
of him he testified,
‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.’
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”
Our second reading comes from the story of Paul’s first missionary journey. He is making a speech at a synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia. It is the first of several speeches of Saint Paul to Jews proclaiming that the Christian Church is the logical development to Pharisaic Judaism (see also Acts 24:10-21; 26:2-23).
When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue,
he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, “Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The audience consists of Jewish people and potential Gentile converts to the Jewish faith. These Gentiles came to the synagogue because they admired Judaism and wanted to learn more about it; however, they had not made a total Mosaic commitment (which would have included circumcision and following the dietary laws).
The people in this group were especially fertile subjects for Christian conversion.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Paul begins with a survey of Israel’s history from Israel’s divine election in the Exodus experience.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’
He continues his summary of Israel’s history. Notice the close attention to historical details in the Torah and the historical books. The saying “David, son of Jesse” combines Psalm 89:21 and 1 Samuel 13:14.
When the prophet Samuel was searching for a possible king, David was a virtual unknown, even within his own family. The youngest of seven sons, he was never even considered as a candidate (see 1 Samuel 13:14 and 16:1-13). This is yet another example of how God uses the seemingly insignificant to confound the prominent; the weak to confound the strong.
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
This is the crux of Paul’s speech, the theme of his entire message. Jesus is the promised Messiah who God raised from the dead to bring salvation to his people.
Recall that God promised David that he would establish in him the royal dynasty from which the Messiah would come. Here, Paul is proclaiming that Jesus is the promised Davidic heir. This ties Jesus to David and Isaiah 11:1, and Nathan’s oracle in 2 Samuel 7:16.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel;
John the Baptist was the prophet who announced Jesus’ coming and prepared Israel to receive him through a baptism of repentance.
Notice the repetition of the name Israel: Paul’s focus is still on Israel as the intended recipient of the Messiah.
and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”
The quote ascribed to John the Baptist appears to be a combination of his testimony found in Luke 3:16-17 and in John 1:19 and 27.
John the Baptist is presented in Luke’s gospel as a transitional figure between the period of Israel (the time of promise) and the period of Jesus (the time of fulfillment). With John, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises has begun (Luke 16:16).
Gospel – Matthew 1:1-25
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.
David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.
Having just heard in our second reading that Jesus is a descendent of David, we now shift to Saint Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, traced from Abraham.
For the Jews and other Eastern peoples of nomadic origin, genealogy was of great importance because a person’s identity was especially linked to family and tribe; the place of birth was of secondary importance. In the case of the Jews, there is the added religious significance of belonging by blood to the chosen people.
The genealogy presented here not only shows Jesus’ human ancestry, it also indicates that salvation history has reached its culmination with the birth of the Son of God through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Advent of the Messiah is presented as the climax of Israel’s history.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
Saint Matthew delivers a jolting revelation to his Jewish readers with this opening line. He announces that the long-awaited Messiah, who was promised by the prophets to restore the kingdom of David (late 11th century BC – 6th century AD), is none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Note the mention of David first, before Abraham, despite the fact that Abraham came long before David and is the “father” of the Israelites. The focus is primarily on God’s covenant promises that identify Jesus as the Messianic king foretold by the prophets as David’s heir.
For Saint Matthew, the rank of the “kingdom” through David is greater than the rank of birth through Abraham. As we know, not every progeny of Abraham was numbered among the people of God (Romans 9:6-7; Galatians 3:16); examples include Ishmael and his descendants and Abraham’s five sons by Keturah and their descendants (Genesis 25:1-4).
Each of them, both Abraham and David, whether by the promise of the Lord or rank of birth, lived as a worthy predecessor in the line of Jesus Christ as to his existence in flesh. For the Lord had promised to Abraham, who by right of circumcision was the founding patriarch of the Jewish people, that from his seed all nations would be blessed. This was realized in Christ, who received his body from the line of Abraham … So also is David first among the tribe of Judah in the rank of king. And likewise God promised to this very tribe that the eternal king, Christ the Lord, would be born from the fruit of its womb. For David was the first king from the tribe of Judah, from which the Son of God received his flesh. [Chromatius, Tractate on Matthew, 1:1]
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.
It was unusual for women to be named in a genealogical list, and in naming women it’s odd that Matthew did not name Abraham’s wife Sarah or Isaac’s wife Rebekah, or Leah and Rachel, the mothers of the children of Israel.
In fact, the gospel writer goes out of his way to mention four women who were each in some way involved in a scandalous past, as seen here with Tamar. She was a Canaanite woman who posed as a prostitute and deceived her father-in-law (Judah) into having sexual relations with her. The result of this incestuous union were the twins Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38).
Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
Another scandalous woman. Rahab was a prostitute of Jericho, a non-Jew, who sheltered the spies sent to scout out the promised land (Joshua 2). She and her household were spared when the Israelites took the city.
Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Ruth was a Moabite woman (a foreigner from a people who were the descendants of an incestuous act) whose story is told in the book of Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.
God made three promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: land, a great nation, and blessings. The promise of a great nation was fulfilled in his descendant David.
David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
The mother of Solomon was Bathsheba, another woman cloaked in controversy. She was an adulterous wife, a fact alluded to here by referring to her not by name, but as “the wife of Uriah.”
Uriah was a Hittite, and it is presumed that Bathsheba was also. She committed adultery with David, and when she became pregnant, David ordered Uriah into battle to be killed in an attempt to conceal their sin. The child of this adulterous relationship died and Solomon was conceived after David and Bathsheba married.
Why did Matthew single out these controversial women in his genealogy? If he wanted to give Jesus the most distinguished and respected ancestry, why didn’t he choose such highly regarded foremothers in Israel as Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, or Leah? Perhaps Matthew used these four foreign women — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba — to announce a theme that runs through his entire gospel: the message of Jesus is also for the Gentiles. God’s design is to save all mankind.
Or perhaps naming these scandalous women was a preemptive strike against the scandalous lies that some Jews were circulating about Mary of Nazareth. If these women could become the mothers of the leaders of the people of Israel (like Bathsheba’s son King Solomon) with important roles to play in God’s plan, who were they to say that Mary’s son was not destined by God to redeem his people?
“It is significant how much our Lord’s temporal ancestry was connected with sinners and foreigners! These blots on the escutcheon of his human lineage suggest a pity for the sinful and for the strangers of the covenant. Both these aspects of his compassion would later be hurled against him as accusations: ‘he is a friend of sinners’; ‘he is a Samaritan.’ But the shadow of a stained past foretells his future love for the stained. Born of a woman, he was a man and could be one with all humanity; born of a Virgin, who was overshadowed by the Spirit and ‘full of grace,’ he would also be outside that current of sin which infected all men.” —Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.
The successor of Abijah was not Asaph, but Asa (1 Chronicles 3:10). Matthew may have deliberately introduced Asaph (author of Psalms 73-83) to show the fulfillment of the promises of all the Old Testament.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat was actually the son of Asa (1 Kings 15:24).
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos,
Some texts read “Amon.” Amon, son of Manasseh, was installed as king while an infant according to 2 Kings 21:18ff. The rendering of Amos for Amon is believed to be the result of an early confusion of the name of King Amon with the name of the prophet Amos.
Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and took the last Davidic king away into exile in 587/6 BC. This deportation to Babylon is described in 2 Kings 24-25. It fulfilled the prophets’ warnings to the people of Israel and their kings that they would be punished for their infidelity to the commandments of the Law of God, especially the first commandment.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, a Davidic king had not ruled God’s people since this event, a span of over 500 years. During that time, the holy prophets had promised that a Davidic Messiah was coming to liberate God’s people. For centuries, the people had been awaiting the coming of the promised king as they suffered under the domination of foreign powers (including the Romans, since 63 BC).
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Note the careful construction of this verse: it does not state that Jesus was the son of Joseph, but rather that Joseph was the husband of Jesus’ mother.
Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Joseph, being Mary’s husband, was the legal father of Jesus. The legal father is on a par with the biological father as regards rights and duties. However, there is evidence that Mary also belonged to the House of David. It was quite common for people to marry within their clan, and several early church fathers testify to this: St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus, St. Justin, and Tertullian, who base their testimony on an unbroken oral tradition.
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 Messiah, fourteen generations.
Here, the gospel writer spells out his planned arrangement of Jesus’ genealogy based on the number fourteen. The gospel writer has actually manipulated his list of the ancestors of Jesus of Nazareth to produce significant numbers associated with names and generations within his list. For example, in the second set, he omits kings Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, who were Davidic kings of Judah between Joram/Jehoram and Uzziah (1 Chronicles 3:11-12; 2 Chr 24-26:2).
The list of fourteen generations is actually two sets of seven generations, seven being one of the “perfect” numbers, signifying fullness and perfection, especially spiritual perfection. It is also symbolic of the covenant. There are a total of six groups of seven from Abraham to Jesus, which means that Jesus starts the seventh group of seven, providing even more focus on the number of the covenant.
Matthew is underscoring his primary message: the covenant promises to David and Abraham had now been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He is the promised King of a new, restored Israel.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together,
Espousal took place about one year before the marriage celebration. The couple did not yet live together until the groom made preparations to bring a wife into his home. When all preparations were completed, the groom brought the bride to his house and friends and family celebrated in a seven-day wedding ceremony (Genesis 29:27, Judges 14:12), after which the couple began to live together. However, from the moment of espousal onward, a certificate of divorce was required.
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph was betrothed (espoused) to Mary when he discovered she was pregnant. They were both legally and morally bound to each other under the specific laws enumerated in the Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy 22:23-27). Any sexual contact between a betrothed woman and another man was equivalent to the sin of adultery and punishable by death for both the betrothed woman and her partner in sin (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18; Leviticus 18:20; 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22).
This obviously put Mary in a precarious position. If Joseph repudiated her, no other “righteous” Jewish man would marry her and she would be ridiculed and shunned by the community. (It’s unlikely that she would have actually been executed, as Mosaic Law prescribed, because under Roman occupation a man or woman could only be executed for violation of Roman law.)
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
For a Jew, and for Joseph, a “righteous man” was a man who lived in strict obedience to the Law.
Joseph obviously knew that he was not the father of this child in the physical sense. Being an observant Jew, he could not marry someone who appeared to have so grossly violated the Law of Moses, but the only way he could be released from the obligation to take Mary as his wife was by an act of repudiation.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary is overcome by the heavenly command that he take her into his home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
According to the customs of the times, if a man named a child, he was declaring the child legally his. The angel’s command leaves no doubt in Joseph’s mind that he is to be the child’s legal human father.
The Hebrew name he is commanded to give the child is Jehoshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves.” The angel made a word-play on the name by stating “because he will save his people from their sins.” This subtle connection with the divine name Yahweh, and the child’s mission, will not become clear until later.
By use of the title “son of David,” the angel reminds Joseph of Nathan’s prophecy (2 Samuel 7:12). Through Joseph’s adoption, the child belongs to the family of David, and through him the promises made to David are fulfilled.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
The sacred author quotes Isaiah 7:14 in the Greek Septuagint form.
This is the first of Matthew’s ten “fulfillment” formula statements which begin “this was to fulfill …” and are followed by a quote from the Old Testament passage or by an allusion to a combination of several passages in one quotation. They show that everything God did in the Old Testament was part of his divine plan in preparation for the advent of the Messiah.
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Joseph demonstrated his obedience to God by immediately taking Mary into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
The Greek word used for “until” is heos; however, the Greek does not carry with it the implication that Joseph had relations with Mary sometime after she gave birth (nor does it exclude it). The same word is used in John 9:18 where it states that the Pharisees did not believe in the man blind from birth until (heos) they called his parents. They didn’t believe afterward either.
With some anguish, Joseph abandoned his initial thought of quietly putting his betrothed Mary away, and thus the birth of Jesus became possible. If Jesus had been born amid the splendor of a rich family, people would have been afraid to approach him, and unbelievers would surely say that the face of the world had been again influenced by the power of wealth.
Connections and Themes
Christmas vigil. The Christmas Vigil echoes the words of Jesus who said to his disciples, “watch and pray” (Luke 21:36). The word “vigil” comes from the Latin word vigilia which means “a watching” or “keeping watch.” In the language of the Church, this term is used to designate the day falling before a more or less prominent feast or solemnity. The vigil is a day that is set apart by the Church as a preparation for the greater day that follows it. In the early centuries of Christianity, the faithful were accustomed to gather in or near a church on the evening preceding great feasts, there giving themselves to prayer, in honor of the mystery or saint who would be venerated on such feasts. The observance of a fast the entire day before these feasts became part of the discipline of Christianity. It was in this way that Christian tradition was confirmed and perpetuated.
In a few hours, the entire world will be celebrating Christmas Day to commemorate the birth of the child Jesus in the world to save his people from their sins. The arrival of Jesus in the history of salvation marks the moment when the guidance of Israel by God the Father was transferred to Jesus who instituted the Church.
Yahweh fulfills his promises. In the first reading, the Lord delighted in Zion, the City of Jerusalem. For a long time, God had been silent, no longer speaking through the prophets because of their sinful ways. Now God decided to manifest his mercy. He promised that he would not rest until the justification of Zion had shined forth like the dawn and her salvation like a burning torch.
When God spoke of the justification of Zion, it was to be understood that he was speaking symbolically of the justification of his people. The Lord’s justification was so glorious that God would not limit it to just the Jewish nation. Such a glory would be witnessed by all the nations, and because of this glorious transformation, God’s people would never be “forsaken” again, nor be termed “desolate.”
This justification came in the form of the infant Jesus.
This glorious event could not have come to pass without the fulfillment of God’s promises that were made to Abraham and his descendants. Today’s second reading affirmed the fulfillment of God’s promises: When God made David their king, in his testimony about him he said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes’ (Acts 13:22), and Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised (Acts. 13:23).
Genealogy of the Messiah. Today’s gospel reading gives an “account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Why such a long genealogy? It was to prove to all the believers of all times that Jesus was truly the Messiah. It was to prove that through Jesus, salvation came to the world. It was to prove that the promises of God to Abraham had finally been fulfilled.
Note that Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph. Jesus, conceived in Mary of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 1:20) was the adoptive son of Joseph. Through adoption, Jesus qualified for the throne of David as King. Through adoption, Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Heavenly Father.
As the adopted son of Saint Joseph, Jesus qualified and inherited the Crown to the earthly Kingdom. Equally, through our adoption by the Lord God, we qualify and shall inherit the Heavenly Kingdom. May we always be grateful to our Lord Jesus for this gift!