Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Today's Gospel is the genealogy with which the New Testament begins. The genealogy of Saint Joseph. Our Lord's stepfather. Why include that?
It has always been recognised as clearly stylised. Three kings are omitted, and Jechoniah counted twice, in order to give fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian Captivity, and fourteen from Babylon to the Nativity of Our Lord, fourteen being the numerical value of the three Hebrew consonants for David. Truly, the Messiah promised to and from the House of David is here, says the most Jewish of the Four Evangelists.
Sacred Tradition has of course always affirmed that Mary was also of Davidic descent, as indeed do her Talmudic defamers in their denunciations of her. Be that as it may, it is notable that only four other women are mentioned in these sixteen verses, and all produced sons who then took their place in the line despite not being the progeny of their mothers' husbands. Either illegitimate or legitimised by the levirate law, they become sons of Abraham and, in the last case, a prince of the House of David, his natural father whom he succeeds and arguably even surpasses.
Our Lady is the new Tamar, preventing the extinction of her people. Our Lady is the new Rahab, rescuing her people by her faith in the limitless power of God. Our Lady is the new Ruth, her Magnificat echoing Ruth's expression of gratitude to Boaz. Our Lady is the new Bathsheba, bringing forth the new Solomon, Whose wisdom is as infinite as His judgement is universal.
And in order to be so, she is placed under the protection of, as Saint Matthew calls him almost immediately after this passage, the "just man" who stands at the conclusion of those forty-two generations of personally imperfect but nevertheless continuous and strictly legal patriarchy and monarchy.