Advent, 17th December, Thursday

 Genesis 49:2, 8-10 / Matthew 1:1-17 

Jacob prophesies: Judah will hold the royal scepter.

 Jacob was also known as Israel. He came to Egypt at the urging of his son Joseph, during a great famine. At that time Joseph held a high office in Egypt.

Just before he died, Jacob assembled his twelve sons to bless them. The blessing in today’s reading was pronounced over Judah. Judah is the brother who persuaded the other brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, rather than kill him. He is also the brother who gave himself as security for his youngest brother, Benjamin. Finally, Judah offered to be punished in place of Benjamin, who was accused falsely of stealing a gold cup. Matthew’s family tree lists Jesus as being the direct descendant of Judah.


What is our attitude toward the members of our own family? “Love one another, just as I love you.” John 15:12


Today, the 17th December begins a special period of the Advent season. From today till the 24th December (Mass in the morning) a different set of readings are used. The emphasis in the liturgy of the Church (ie. Mass and Divine Office) is on the "O" Antiphons, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and how the people waited in hope for the coming of the Messiah.

In the gospel, we heard about the genealogy of Jesus Christ - three sums of generations and fourteen in each generation.
The purpose is to tell us that from Abraham, the father of our faith, right down to Mary, the mother of the Church, the longing is for the Messiah and Saviour. It also reminds us that through the generations, humankind had been shackled by sin and wickedness and is still is being tempted and lured by the devil to eternal damnation.

As we begin this special period of Advent, let us be still and prepare ourselves with prayer for the coming of the Saviour. Let us acknowledge our sins and seek healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us ask for the grace of obedience so that our hearts will be open to Jesus Christ.


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.