Wednesday, December 24, 2003

A Christmas Thought


Last Sunday in the Byzantine Church we heard the "begat" readings from Matthew, the lengthy genealogy of Jesus. This may seem to be a boring and unnecessary reading, and indeed it was quite funny listening to our Deacon attempt to pronounce Zerubbabel. Why do we read this?

What we must remember is that Jesus is not just God, but Man. The genealogy emphasizes Christ's human nature. He is indeed a son of Abraham and a son of David. This means that he shares a nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and with us. Look at what St. Leo has to say: For if the New Man had not been made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and taken on Him our old nature, and being consubstantial with the Father, had deigned to be consubstantial with His mother also, and being alone free from sin, had united our nature to Him the whole human race would be held in bondage beneath the Devil's yoke, and we should not be able to make use of the Conqueror's victory, if it had been won outside our nature.

Note the turn of phrase. In the creed we profess that the Son is consubstantial with the Father (in the ICEL translation it is rendered "one in being", which is a lousy translation of consubstantialis or homoousios): Leo points out that the Son is consubstantial with Mary as well. Jesus shares a nature with God and with us.

Think of it this way when you hear the genealogy readings (". . . Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor. . . ."): if Jesus is related to all of these people, he's related to you. Jesus is not only your savior, he's your cousin!

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