Advent - Dec 17 - Liturgy

Tuesday December 17, 2019 

The liturgical readings of today call our attention to Christ in his human reality: human like us in everything – except for sin, clarifies St. Paul – a descendant of sinners, who, as Church Fathers stress, are even singled out in Matthew’s family tree of Christ. He is a man born of a woman, a baby in a crib, a child growing up to manhood, a man walking the roads of Palestine, who could weep and be angry, had friends, had a sense of humor, and attended marriage feasts. Indeed, he was fully human, God in human form. 

Opening Prayer 
Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son came among us as one of us, a human being among other people, simple, accessible, yet your human face and the measure of what a human person is. Lord, make us discover ourselves in his mirror: that we are born to be free, to be unselfish, available, committed. Free us from our selfishness, our cowardice and attitudes of conformism, that we may become a bit what you want us to be, like your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Reading 1: Gn 49:2, 8-10  Jacob called his sons and said to them: "Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.  "You, Judah, shall your brothers praise –your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah, like a lion's whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him? The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people's homage." 

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17  R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king's son; He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. The mountains shall yield peace for the people, and the hills justice. He shall defend the afflicted among the people, save the children of the poor. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. 

Alleluia  R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge! R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel: Mt 1:1-17  The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 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, Jesse the father of David the king.  David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.  After the Babylonian exile, 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, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.  Thus 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 Christ, fourteen generations. 

Intercessions  – For the Jewish people, who gave us Jesus our Savior, that God may bless them and give them peace, we pray: – For people who have erred, that they may not give up on themselves but keep seeking reconciliation with God and neighbor, we pray: – For all of us, that we may keep growing in humanity in the likeness of Christ, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts  God, our Father, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, gives himself to us in the simplicity of a piece of bread and a cup of wine. May we learn from him to give ourselves in all simplicity. Do not allow us to be resigned to evil and misfortunes in the world, but challenge us to be responsible with Jesus for our brothers and sisters and with him to exist for others, today and every day, for ever. 
Prayer after Communion  Loving Father, because Jesus, our Lord and Savior, became one of us long ago, we can believe that he is still one of us today, sharing our destiny, going all the way with us. Accept us, then, in your Son as we are: stumbling and fumbling and plodding, yet full of good will and hoping in a future of justice and reconciliation, for Christ is our Lord for ever. 

Blessing  A theme dear to the Church Fathers is that Christ became one of us as a human person to make us children of God and to show us in himself what it means to be a son or daughter of God. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Commentary  Some people enjoy tracing their family trees. Others would just as soon leave the past alone. In some cases, we find an illustrious ancestor, a real credit to the family line. In others, there are skeletons in the closet who might just as well stay there. In biblical times, genealogies were common in tracing family lineage, and the Old Testament has any number of them. Today’s scriptures give us the genealogy of Christ himself. This genealogy, more popular than strictly scientific, underscores Jesus’ Hebrew and royal lineage, as a descendant of David. It has more than its share of unsavory characters. Most of the kings of Judah, who are listed, are dismissed in the Book of Kings as men who did evil in the eyes of God. They were characterized by idolatrous and licentious conduct. Only Hezekiah and Josiah receive high praise. But it is encouraging to note that sinners are not discarded or disowned in Christ’s family tree. After all, it was for the sinner that Christ came. Sin may have been a felix culpa or “happy fault,” but it was still a fault, and Christ confronts it directly. He took the weight upon himself and made us all free. We can all take courage from the fact that Christ did not turn away from human misconduct. In fact, it was for this that he came. It is truly unfortunate to feel so broken because of our mistakes that we feel excluded and without hope. The prophet promised that those sins as red as scarlet would become white as snow. Human justice—which is often about retribution, even if that means execution—and divine mercy are poles apart. The mercy of God can reach the darkest recesses of any prison cell block. In Christ’s genealogy there are five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. They have one thing in common: they conceived and bore children under unusual circumstances. None more so than Mary, whose son was fathered by God himself. So while Christ took upon himself the full weight of human weakness and sin, he was still God’s only Son. The meaning of Christmas is found in a genealogy: Jesus, God, and man, for the salvation of the world. 

Points to Ponder  Forgiveness and the weight of guilt Upholding Christ as God Appreciating our forebears Justice and mercy The death penalty.