Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
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December 17th, 2009
by

Maureen McCann Waldron

The Collaborative Ministry Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalm 72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17
Luke 7:18b-23

Today's gospel might seem almost odd at first glance.  It's a long list of genealogy, tracing the family tree of Jesus. It recounts the ancestry from Abraham, through David and finally to Jesus.  The remarkable part is that it contains something not usually found in a genealogy of those times - mention of women. 

Tucked away in the rhythmic cadences of the gospel: 
            "Abraham became the father of Isaac,
            Isaac the father of Jacob,
            Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers..."
are the names of five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, the mother of Jesus.  What makes this extraordinary is that in the days in which Jesus lived and Matthew wrote this gospel, women were not full citizens and were considered irrelevant in public affairs. As in many cultures until recent times, inheritance came only through the father.  And yet very deliberately, Matthew mentions these women. Why?  Perhaps because as many scripture scholars today note, all five women had "irregular" relationships with the men with whom they bore their children.  Whether a prostitute, a foreigner, a married woman whose child was conceived in adultery, or like Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus before her marriage to Joseph, all of the women had something extraordinary about their unions.  And each one of them had something to do with carrying on the family line from Abraham to the Messiah.

How wondrous that God used these women to bring about the Messiah.  Each one of them was a symbol of how God uses the unexpected to carry out God's plan - the coming of the Messiah.  Our savior comes to us out of a lineage that is not "regular," but is certainly human, and in all of it, God is working.  It challenges us to look at the ways God is inviting us to be instruments of Gods' plan today, in the midst of our own less-than-perfect unions. 

Advent is a wonderful time to ask these questions. Can the Lord use me?  I'm not perfect, I'm not holy.  My circumstances are complex, even messy.  I'm too busy, too un-focused, lazy or fast-paced for God to use me.  I'm not ready.  As soon as I get myself together a little more, then I'll be ready to answer God's call.

Whatever each of our individual human situations are, the temptation is always, perhaps especially for women, to think that God isn't interested in using me.   Perhaps this Advent is a time for us to discover what initiatives we can take to be one of the instruments in God's marvelous plan of salvation. Perhaps this is a time to notice one of the women in our lives who, though not perfect, may be an instrument of God's grace for me. 

Thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful gospel and the story of the hidden women who are part of your story, your family history.  Maybe the "irregularities" of your own past family life inspired you to be more compassionate to prostitutes and welcoming to people in the margins of society.  Inspire us with the same compassionate and forgiving love.

Help us to find how we are being called to be a part of your plan of salvation.  Let us start in our own lives, in our own families.  How can we better love a spouse who disappoints us, a parent or other family member who causes us pain or a child who is pulling away from us?  Keep our hearts open, Lord, and help us to love these difficult people and relationships in ways we didn't know we were capable of.  We wait with the anticpation of Advent to find our own role in the history of salvation. 

Thank you Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, women of faith, destiny and courage.  Thank you for saying Yes.

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