24 December 2016
About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,
until her integrity shines out like the dawn
and her salvation flames like a torch.
The nations then will see your integrity,
all the kings your glory,
and you will be called by a new name,
one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.
You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God;
no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’,
nor your land ‘Abandoned’,
but you shall be called ‘My Delight’
and your land ‘The Wedded’;
for the Lord takes delight in you
and your land will have its wedding.
Like a young man marrying a virgin,
so will the one who built you wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.
When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia, he stood up in the synagogue, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out.
‘Then he made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’
A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
As Advent draws to a close and we enter Christmas, we are reminded that today is the day that we have long been waiting for. For four weeks, we have lit an advent candle each Sunday, waiting in hope and patience for our Lord to arrive. Yet, it is not simply in Advent that we wait. Indeed, we have waited generations for our Saviour, and He has finally arrived.
While the wait has been long, it had always been filled with hope. Indeed, Matthew recounts this wait for us, from Abraham to David, from David to Joseph. and finally from Joseph to Jesus. Of course, I over-simplify — we have waited 42 generations for our Lord to arrive. But the wait has been filled with sweet longing, for has Jesus’s coming not already been foretold in scripture?
So it is the same for us today. We are pilgrims awaiting the return of our Lord and Master. It is often easy to be lulled into a sense of ennui while waiting, perhaps to wile away the time with our little games and entertainment as we wait (Halo, anyone?). But when the Master arrives, will we be truly ready to welcome Him? How often have we been told in the Bible of what happens to those who are not ready when the Lord arrives?
Tonight as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we remember to always keep ourselves awake in prayer, ready to receive our Lord. Indeed, we have already been receiving Him in communion at mass. All we ever needed to do was to open our eyes to the reality of Christ in the Eucharist, then we will see that perhaps, just perhaps, we have been preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord all through the year.
Finally, Matthew’s gospel reminds us of the awesome inheritance that Jesus brings with Him, an inheritance that He shares with us. Through Him, we are one with all the holy men and women who have pleased God throughout the ages. It also reminds me of one of my favourite hymns:
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou art
Let us cherish and reverence the true treasure that is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray with joyful and faithful hearts for your saving grace in each and every one of our lives. May your birth at Christmas remind us of our own baptismal promises to You.
Thanksgiving: We are thankful tonight for our Lord Jesus Christ, who has come to save, redeem, and love us without end.