St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Sermons

Homily for 23 December 2012
by Fr Roberto Ubertino 

Just before Christmas, we hear in the Church the beautiful Gospel we just listened to. A long list of names of people, some great saints, others well-known sinners, all of them shown to be part of a long history that prepared the coming of the Lord. The historical genealogy wants to stress that Jesus of Nazareth is 100% human and that to be human means more than being just an individual. To be really human, we need a sense of history, our own history, the sense of being connected with a part that is personal, through the personal history, dreams and hopes of people who came before us.

 

Today we look at the biological as just that, but Scripture shows us that even the biological begetting is more than just biological. By listing, by name, all those who prepared the coming of the Lord, the Gospel personalizes history. History is about names, about people, and we are also shown why. Because it is all about a person, a name – Jesus, born of Mary. In this Gospel there is a bold announcement that all history can only be understood in reference to the person of Jesus, born of Mary. That salvation reaches the past as well as the present and the future through the humanization of God – Jesus, born of Mary. This long list of names seems to echo another Scripture verse, where, in Isaiah 40, God says to us, “Fear not, I am with you, I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.” And in Hebrews 11:16, God is not ashamed to be called their God.

 

And yet, the genealogy – family tree of Jesus, born of Mary – is not just about our human family tree. Both Matthew and Luke show that Joseph is not the father of Jesus, but only Mary is His mother. Almost hidden, easily overlooked, is this utterly new event, this utterly new Act of God. God becomes man; the virgin gives birth to the Son of the Father. The family tree in the gospel today seems to almost in passing tell us" by the way Joseph husband of Mary – whose whole lineage this (gospel) is about – is not the father of Jesus." This can easily be overlooked because MATTHEW continues by summarizing the whole list of generations that that lead up to the birth of Jesus born of Mary.

 

Hidden among us, as truly one of us, is someone who is not from just among us. He does not impose himself on us, on our structures, on our history. Things continue to look as they always have. The change is almost imperceptible yet the whole Gospel will be a slow discovery of who is this Jesus born of Mary. And two thousand years later, as we celebrate the coming feast of Christmas, we are still "growing in the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the fullness of Christ."

 

For each of us, the discovery of the presence of God in our life should or can leads us to a deeper appreciation of all the events and people in our life up to this moment.

 

Whenever we awaken to God's presence in our life, we, in turn, discover that he was always there with us.

 

This is what in part the Gospel of today challenges each of us to see as we prepare to celebrate the coming feast of Jesus born of Mary.

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