As I have been reflecting on the birth of Jesus, I have been struck by the importance of “generation” in the plan of God. There are nine generation lists in the Book of Genesis and they serve to divide the book into ten sections. Then too, attention is paid to the “generators” of prominent people in the Old Testament. St. Matthew opens his Gospel with an abundant use of words related to the root “gen.” Thus, the first line of the Gospel opens in a way that can be translated: “A book of the genesis (origin) of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham” and goes on to give a list of forty-two generations between Adam and Joseph who is described as “the husband of Mary, of whom was born (egenethe) Jesus who is called the Christ (Messiah). St. Luke holds off giving a list of Jesus’ ancestry until he recounts Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of his public ministry: “When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, (son) of Heli, (son) of Matthat.” On the other hand, Luke continues listing Jesus’ ancestors until he arrives at “(son) of Adam, (“son’) of God.” (Lk 3:23-48). St. Paul says that Jesus “was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,” and that he was “instituted Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead." (Rom 1:3-4).
At Christmas time we recall the fulfillment of the plan of God which began with his command to Adam and Eve: “God said to them, ‘be fruitful, be many, fill the earth and rule over it’.” (Gen 1:28). We have lost our original authority over the earth and even our own bodies (we die), but in Jesus Christ we have regained some of this authority. In the sacraments, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bread and wine, water, oil, word and gestures mediate divine life, and of course God’s injunction to “be fruitful, be many” is still in force. This means that abortion, besides being murder, is also sacrilege- the destruction of an image of God and a perversion of his plan. History proceeds and enables God’s plan through generation. How many great thinkers and leaders, and even saints have been aborted? How much evil is perpetrated by our culture of death?
At this time of year when we celebrate the coming of God in the flesh and our eternal life as a result of Jesus’ death in the flesh, let us give thanks to the Father for the humanity of our salvation and celebrate the fact that, in the words of Tertullian, one of the Fathers of the Church: “Caro est cardo salutis” (“the flesh is the hinge of salvation”). Come let us adore the Son of Mary who in his flesh has brought eternal life back to the world!
Fr. Francis Martin