2b Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.c 3Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.d Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4e Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5f Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, 6g Jesse the father of David the king.
David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. 7* h Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. 8Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. 9Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. 10Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos,* Amos the father of Josiah. 11Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
12i After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, 15Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.*"
There are many people who are into genealogy. I am not one of them. I know my grandparents and some of my great grandparents, I know something of the various nations and tribes from which they came. As far as seeing if I am the long lost relative of ...I don't know...Brosleus III of Lesser Angltopia doesn't interest me. Maybe it should. Where we come from speaks to our family history and its struggles and triumphs. St. Matthew's Gospel begins with a genealogy. Remember, we are not talking about a mere biography, but a proclamation of Good News. Why begin here?
The answer is the concept of something we call salvation history. Salvation history is the story of God's interaction with humanity from its very beginnings. Salvation history tells a story of a God who simply refused to write off a creation that turned on Him. He time and again makes covenants with that fallen humanity. The covenants center on a mutual relationship: "I will be your God, you will be my people." His people did not always prove themselves responsible partners in this relationship. Nonetheless, he keeps calling them back.
Jesus is called the "Son of David, the son of Abraham". This is telling. As son of David, the great King, he is a fulfillment of a promise that one of his heirs would rule the house of Israel forever. As son of Abraham, he is the fulfillment of the promise of how a great nation would spring forth from him. Right off the bat, in Matthew, we are told that this Jesus is the fulfillment of a promise made by a loving God. He keeps His promise not because of Israel's faithful cooperation or because of their power, but because He loves them, regardless of how far they wander. Keep in mind that this lineage from Abraham has been enslaved in Egypt ( God saves them), conquered the Promised Land, then was constantly plagued by troublesome neighbors during the time of the Judges, given a brief high time under the rule of Saul, David, and Solomon, descended into division, was conquered by empires time and again, and was again a conquered people under the Romans of Jesus' time. There are names of just men and horrific sinners and apostates in this list of names. Through all the highs and lows, times of faithfulness and far greater times of infidelity, God refuses to write these people off. He simply loves humans too much to destroy them.
Jesus comes as a promise to be fulfilled by a loving Father. Even as he chastises bad behavior, it is always with an eye towards their redemption. The Gospel story cannot be understood outside of understanding that God's primary disposition to us is love.
So what? Well, God reveals Himself to us not merely to show us who He is, not merely to invite us into relationship, but to show us something of what we who enter into relationship are called to be. As God is, we are called to be. This means that if God's basic disposition to us is that of love and seeking our good, then if we be sons and daughters of such a God, we too must have that same disposition towards ourselves and those around us. It is all too often that we write people off as beneath us, not worth our time, effort, and resources, and as being beyond our willingness to show compassion and mercy. Too much time is spent in finding ways to justify neglect, revenge, and division. One moment spent in such endeavors is far too much time. If we are to expect to understand who Jesus is and the relationship He calls us to, we must start from the vantage point of desiring mercy and compassion and desiring to extend mercy and compassion to others. The whole of who Jesus is becomes clear from these seemingly innocuous verses of a genealogy. To enter into a relationship with this Jesus necessitates us to start from here as well.