Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 17, 2019

Gn 49:2, 8-10/Mt 1:1-17 (193)

Tell me there are more boring readings when you are a child or, honestly, even as an adult, than the “begat” passages? They seem like nothing more than a dry list of names, of fathers, mothers, and children, named one after another. Yet, not only are mothers, fathers, and children the core of the family, and society, every name reflects a precious gift of God, their names, faces, and personalities indelibly marked on the ones who love them. They are not just names, they are flesh and blood, soul and spirit, with loves, hopes, losses, and dreams.  

Even more, every name reveals our history, not just our personal and family histories, but salvation history. God’s saving acts take place not apart from our human history, but within history, with the ultimate goal of perfecting and restoring us to what we were intended to be. One name matters most in that context, and that is the name above every name, Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew states that Jacob was “the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ” (Matthew 1:16).   

The baby was named Jesus, who grew into a boy and then a man, in human history, like all of us, fully human. Why did God send his son, fully human and yet fully divine, into human history? Because every name matters. Your mother who has passed, a child taken too soon, your recently graduated daughter, your elderly aunt, ok boomer relatives, millennial grandchildren who go viral on TikTok, Gen Z Tide-pod eaters, and the names of long forgotten relatives written in a family Bible or etched on stone gravestones who you never met. Every list of names, every name, reveals people beloved by God. God forgets none of them, loves all of them, and calls them all home by name.  

At Advent we remember that all those who have gone before us and all of those still to come, like those of us here and now making our way through human history the best we can, have been made for a an eternal kingdom that completes and fulfills all of our hopes, that is the intended destiny for every name, whether we remember them or not.  

John W. Martens
Professor, Theology Department


O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!