1. The story of humankind beginning with Adam and Eve is a story of sinners and saints. God’s saving plan has always included both.
2. God, acting in Jesus Christ continues to write straight with crooked lines in regard to Jesus’ relatives. The men were scheming as well as noble, and the women, saintly as well as embroiled in scandals.
3. The sequence continues with Peter, Paul, and all the rest of us. Each of us is an important and significant part of this genealogy. Sinner and saint live in each of us. We are a motley mélange saved by the Incarnation and the paschal mystery of God’s Son. The Good News contains sad news about the assortment of shady characters in the history of salvation. Evidently, God has not hesitated to entrust his institution with “corrupt, venal, stupid, and ineffective leaders as well as sometimes by saints” (Brown, 26). Dr. Alice von Hildebrand often quips that God has put a limit on man’s intelligence but evidently not on his stupidity.
4. Today, many give bow to Jesus but will not accept the institution of the Church, his Body. In this regard, Brown notes: “Those ‘Christians’ who proclaim that they believe in and love Jesus but cannot accept the Church or the institution because it is far from perfect and sometimes a scandal have not understood the beginning of the story and consequently are not willing to face the challenge of the sequence” of sinners from Peter and Paul down to every last man and woman. The Church is always in need of reforming itself (ecclesia semper reformanda est).
This is a hard lesson to accept, especially when one part of the Church treats another poorly, whether from within the structural context or personally. These actions are not willed by God, but they can be made to participate in God’s providential plan.
5. If Abraham fathered Isaac, ... and Jesse fathered David the King, ... then the sequence continues: Jesus called Peter and Paul, ... Paul called Timothy, ... someone called you, ... and you must call someone else” (Brown, 26).
Prayer in the Midst of ‘Holiday Cheer’
As the Church celebrates the season of Advent to prepare for the Lord’s coming, the secular spin has largely succeeded in shoving the religions meaning of Christmas into the closet – not to mention the obvious fact that Christmas day is being celebrated before it occurs. The secular onslaught seeks to overcome the whole of Advent preparation until there is nothing left – not even the stillness of prayer to focus on the religious meaning of the season. It is we who allow this betrayal of the gospel message.
Our interior life should be strong enough to weather the onslaught of secular intrusion, or more precisely, the secular take-over of Christmas. To this end, St. Anselm admonishes:
“Insignificant man, escape from everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and your troubles. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: ‘I seek your face; your face, I desire.’” (St. Anselm, Proslogion, 11th c).