Friday, December 16, 2011

According to Your Word - December 17th of Advent Season

(Image of the Advent wreath is from ImageVine/courtesy of All rights reserved.)

(Gen 49:2, 8-10; Mt 1:1-17)

Today the Church goes into “Advent overdrive” with Scriptures and prayers that attempt to sharply focus our attention in the last eight days before Christmas. The best example of these is found in the “O Antiphons” which are prayed, beginning today, in the Church’s Evening Prayer: “O Wisdom, Holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: come and show your people the way to salvation!”

With ordinary life examples the Scriptures invite us to reflect on the extent of the wisdom which fashioned, and continues to fashion, this way of salvation.

Chapter 49 of Genesis recounts Jacob’s last will and testament. In its entirety it paints a very human and poignant picture. The dying Jacob desires to bless all his sons yet understands, in a moment of personal insight, the impossibility of this fatherly desire. Why? Because personal choice has made some of his sons allies of darkness instead of light. For them admonitions and instructions are the only words Jacob can offer. However, in today’s selection, blessings are given to Judah, one of Jesus’ ancestors. And these blessings are messianic in character: long lasting power and authority. From a simple tale of the ordinary life experience of dying, the author intimates that God’s promises endure despite the vagaries of human choices. God not only shows the way of salvation, God makes it happen.

Chapter 1 of Matthew’s Gospel is a challenge for most readers and listeners alike. On the surface, genealogies do not seem to capture the imagination. What is interesting is the inclusion of five women in this list. They lead us in a direction which can help give some contemporary significance to this little preached text. It is not difficult to understand the inclusion of Mary, mother of Jesus. The author’s intent is to emphasize that Jesus is born of her and not Joseph her husband.

The mention of three others—Tamar (Gen.38), Rahab (Josh. 2), and Bathsheba the wife of Uriah (2 Sam 11:1-27) – invites us to read their stories and to understand that God can and does work even with the shadows (theirs and ours) to form a hopeful future. Come Lord Jesus!

– Fr. Giles Schinelli, T.O.R.