An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon.
And Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
And Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok.
And Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I read this Gospel passage and looked at the footnotes and found a long list of technicalities. Matthew did not include some people in this genealogy, the last verse is generation listing does not include fourteen generations but the summary at the end says that it does. It is easy to read this and think to yourself, “What is the meaning of this passage then?”
I believe the whole point of this Gospel passage is to demonstrate how long the wait for the Messiah truly was. I often explain to my students that in the Old Testament, the idea of an awaited Messiah does not explicitly appear in many of the earlier stories such as Abraham, Moses, and David. However, the longing for the Messiah is still present through the peoples’ innate longing to experience the perfection of God.
Though the Messiah has come, humanity naturally continues to look forward to the meeting of the God whom our ancestors in faith sought. The Advent season is a time to recognize the natural desire to experience and know God and to respond actively through prayer and reflection.
Lord God, in this Advent season of preparation, we remember the many years that God’s people waited in the hope of the Messiah’s coming. As we ready ourselves to celebrate the birth of that Messiah, open our hearts to seeking you through prayer and service to our neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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