Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus who is called the Christ — the Messiah. There were then fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.
Today‘s passage from Matthew is the opening of his Gospel. The genealogy is divided into three significant parts, each with fourteen generations. The first part is from Abraham down to David, the second from David to the deportation to Babylon, and the third from the deportation to Joseph and Mary. It is not a complete genealogy. The names mentioned all appear one way or another in the Hebrew Testament. There are four women mentioned – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. They are interesting characters in their own right. The Book of Genesis (38:15) recounts that Tamar pretended to be a harlot and seduced her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab was a prostitute, as the Book of Joshua attests (Jos 2:1), but the New Testament praises her for her faith and good works (Heb 11:31 and Jas 2:25). Ruth was one who showed her Jewish mother-in-law care and fidelity. The infamous Bathsheba that Matthew described simply as Uriah‘s wife committed adultery with David. By including these women in Jesus' genealogy, Matthew is showing us that God takes humanity as it is to bring an unfolding plan to fulfillment. It involves sin and conversion, success and failure, sinners and saints. But God is at work in it, making broken ways straight and rough ways smooth. And ultimately, God's love prevails, a truth revealed in the person and life of Jesus. Jesus comes in our midst and is totally incarnated in the world so that he could communicate the message of God‘s love to the world and for the world. We are not true to our calling if we think that, in order to be true to Jesus, we have to separate ourselves from a material and sinful world. St. Thomas is right when he says that grace builds on nature.
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