What Does Jesus Really Know About Being Human?

December 17, 2020   Thursday of the Third Week of Advent (Lectionary: 193)

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. 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.

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.

By Molly Herrera 

Today’s Gospel reading brings back more childhood memories for me of scripture that seemed foreign and honestly, just strange. Why do we spend an entire reading listing off the genealogy of Christ and naming the generations from Abraham to David to the Babylonian exile to Christ?

As an adult, this reading bears so much more weight and significance in my life than it did as a child. Jesus was a son. Jesus was a cousin and a nephew. Jesus was a grandson and a great nephew.

He was a friend and he was human.

I also think about my own family in this reading. I’m the middle of five kids. All of my siblings are married or about to be married. Now that we’ve started having our own children, the size of our family has become more striking to me. Our immediate family now has 15 people in it. My parents, my siblings and their spouses, and our children. Some of my siblings joke that after the pandemic ends, we won’t be invited to weddings or gatherings anymore because the Gradowskis are now 15 deep. And no one can handle 15 Gradowskis in one place.

In this reading, I can’t help but think of Jesus as a real part of a family and a community. Jesus was somebody’s son. Jesus was someone’s cousin. Jesus had aunts and uncles. He had friends and neighbors who loved and cared for him. So much of us are formed by our families and the community that surround us.

I believe the same was for Jesus.

I imagine Jesus running around as a child with his cousins and friends playing games or falling and scraping his knee or doing something mischievous that an aunt or uncle or adult in the community had to call him out for. I imagine Jesus as a young teenager getting lost in the temple having the conversation with his worried sick mother who was terrified when she couldn’t find her child. I imagine Jesus as an adult having real relationships with family members and friends --- experiencing love, friendship, suffering, grief, joy, disappointment --- all in the context of relationships with the ones who surrounded him from his childhood years into his adult life and ministry.

This reading today reminds me of Jesus’ humanity, of Jesus’ family, and how Christ connects to us through his own human lived experience of being in a family and community. I pray that I never forget this about Jesus. I pray that in my moments of darkness or frustration or disappointment that I always remember that Jesus, fully God and fully human, has walked this earth, has lived as a member of a family and community, and is walking with me, day in and day out, in my own lived experience on this earth.


Molly Herrera is the Program Director of Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Washington and a graduate student in Theology. Previous to her work at the Archdiocese, Molly spent four years at a dynamic multicultural parish as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry as well as four years abroad in post-grad volunteer work and teaching in Ecuador. She and her husband Frixon live in Maryland with their one year old son, Liam. In addition to balancing work and family life, Molly loves watching DC sports (go Nats!), reading anything by Henri Nouwen, cooking her favorite Ecuadorian dishes, and diving deeper into Ignatian spirituality. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @mollygherrera. 

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