a big family

If you depend on the daily gospel reading to get some inspiration or direction you might wonder what to take from today’s opening verses of Matthew’s gospel. Take a couple of seconds (literally) to skim it quickly:

“A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.”

What was the gospel writer thinking to use more than 40 generations of dry ancestry to open this gospel?

Well the list certainly makes the point that Jesus was born into a family with a detailed biological family tree.

But from this moment it all begins to change as Jesus initiates a new era of family life where biological relationship, while still important, is not the central definition of the new family:

“Jesus responded: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:49-50)

We understand this in our own experience when we know our need to be with others who share our faith – this is our healthy desire for brothers and sisters who will with us form a new form of family that transcends biology.

In this adventure we are not limited to the company of biological siblings with other biological relatives. Instead our new family is big and broad, inclusive across every diversity united deeply by our desire to live in relationship with Jesus Christ.

And in the Eucharist, sharing the body and blood of Christ, we form a new body and celebrate a new era of blood relationship.

An Invitation

  • Take a moment to call to mind those who are your family, both biological and beyond, and express your gratitude to God for these people who make up your family of friendship, love and faith.
  • It’s Pope Francis’ 83rd birthday today. Take a moment today to offer a prayer for him.


The “O” Antiphons

In the Liturgy of the Church the Vespers antiphons begin and conclude the Magnificat canticle for the seven days from today (December 17) until the day before Christmas Eve (23 December) are known as the “O Antiphons”. These are also used as the Alleluia verse of the Mass, and each of the seven antiphons present one of the scriptural attributes of Christ.

Note: The seven verses of the well-known hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” are based on the seven O Antiphons.

Over the next seven days the Food For Faith reflection will conclude with the O Antiphon of the day. Each of these antiphons gives much food for prayer focussing on a central aspect of the person of Christ beginning with today’s antiphon: O Wisdom:

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

In the following clip I especially appreciated the reflective looks on the faces of those watching…

7 Responses to "a big family"
  1. Isn’t amazing that we are a link in a chain, a small tooth on a very large cog, we are small and insignificant, yet so necessary for the continued working of God in our biological families. I am so grateful to my Spiritual family for the love and support I receive to be the best I can be in that place.
    Thank you Fr John for the clip, it is a really blessed space they were able to create for their University family.

  2. I enjoy learning about genealogy and I like how the acknowledgement to Our Lady Mary the mother of Jesus Christ is given honour. Amen

  3. The saying is “To sing is to pray twice!” Wonderful singing and beautiful stillness!
    The days of the “O” Antiphons are special Advent days to keep singing them in our hearts. Thank you, John, for this reminder.

  4. Thank you Fr John for a deep and insightful reflection. I am drawn to the link of our personal family link to the wide link because of our faith. That is the Divine plan. This Divine message n Presence of something mystic draw us all to this AWE

  5. Your universal reflection on Pope Francis’ 83rd birthday is thought-promoting.
    It has increased my understanding and appreciation of my three dimensional ‘big family’ ……
    My Ancestors, My Family of Origin and my Faith Family & Friends.
    Thank you for transforming my consciousness regarding the spiritual significance and purpose of my Big Family here on earth. +

  6. I understand that Matthew wrote his gospel specifically directed at converting the Jew’s. He needed to point out that Jesus’ lineage was directly related to Abraham, the Father of the Jewish Faith. Lineage connecting you to Abraham or any of the founding members of the faith was vitally important.That aside the church family I see every Sunday is just that, my Parish family,
    God bless

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