Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday: Perfection through Imperfection

We are one novena away from Christmas Day. The Church shares with us a selection from St. Matthew's gospel that puts forward the genealogy of Jesus. We have read it or heard it many times. There were fourteen generations between Abraham and David, another fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian exile and a third fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to the Christ. But included within these generations leading to the birth of Jesus there is a remarkable fact that most people pass over without any awareness. That fact is simply this: included in the generational lines are five women!!! Yes, women!!! This is a most extraordinary fact for the times in which St. Matthew was living. As we know, women did not count for much.

These five women -- Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary -- are not ordinary women. They are women who brought their offspring into the world through an "irregular" relationship with the father of the child except Mary who gave birth through an irregular most manner.

What was the purpose of St. Matthew and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in revealing these facts for us? Perhaps the answer is not so simple. God uses those who reflect that not all people called to serve God are perfect. Whether a prostitute, a foreigner, a woman married to another man or like Mary, pregnant before her marriage to Joseph, these women served God's plan for the birth of his Son.

We might, at times, wonder if God feels we are worthy to serve him in our chosen way of life. If we have sinned in ways that lead us to feel that God may not want us to be important people in his modern day kingdom, we might consider for a while this reality in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of God.

If we are God's creations, just as these women were, we are good. We are blessed with abundance of grace even though there has been slippage in our lives. We have to believe, we have to trust: God forgives and God uses us as his messengers in our times. How many of the saints we honor today have revealed to us their infidelities, their failures? Yet, we celebrate their goodness.

Let us repeat to ourselves the words of the Opening Prayer of the liturgy today: "May we come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our human nature."