Advent is a time to grow in appreciation for Mary, the Mother of Christ and motherhood in general. In the sweeping story of salvation there were many mothers that made Christ’s coming possible for us. Matthew’s genealogy highlights some of Christ’s special mothers (Mt. 1:1-17). We tend to avoid or skip over genealogies. The procession of names isn’t intended to be a comprehensive genealogy, but rather a selection of important people, many of them serving as a clue to Jesus’s mission and message.
Breaking with traditional genealogies, Matthew highlights four female figures, each an ancestral mother of Christ that lead us to Mary. Instead of choosing the famous matriarchs like Sarah, Rebekeh and Rachel, the Gospel writer chooses women whose lives were filled with shame and pain (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba). They endured prostitution, widowhood, and even rape. They were “outsiders,” foreigners brought into God’s family through faith and the Lord’s providence. They are a revelation of God’s love in Christ that would soon break into our world to bring healing and wholeness, setting us free from our shameful pasts. Their stories reach their fulfillment in the final mother of the genealogy: Mary. In her Magnificat, Our Lady speaks of God’s “mercy on those who fear him in every generation” like Rahab of Jericho and Bathsheba the Hittite. She praises the Lord who has “lifted up the lowly” like Tamar and “filled the hungry with good things” as he did for Ruth (Luke 1:46-55).
How may this season of Advent invite me to give Jesus and Mary all the “messiness” of my personal history: all of the brokenness, pain and shame and to trust that it can be redeemed and to find wholeness in Christ?
Adapted from Thomas Smith