Today’s Gospel is what I jokingly refer to as the “begat” Gospel, because of the Biblical translations that read “Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob,” etc. It is easy to gloss over the text and tune out the many unfamiliar names of the Old Testament figures presented in this genealogy. But this is not merely a footnote to Matthew’s Gospel.  This is where he starts. Why? What does this brief history have to do with Christ?

Matthew’s Gospel was written for Jewish Christians and takes great care to connect Jesus’ life and teachings to the Jewish tradition. In presenting Jesus as the son of Abraham and the son of David, Matthew acknowledges Jesus as the fulfillment of salvation history, and the Messiah that had been promised. By beginning with the genealogy, Matthew firmly roots Jesus at the center, connecting the tradition of the past, with his teachings for the future.

As disciple of Christ, we are challenged to hear the messages of the prophets and ask ourselves how we should respond in today’s context. We are urged to make our world a more just and peaceful place, in both our local and global communities. We are missioned to go out into the world and spread the good news about Jesus.  We are invited to co-labor with him in building the Kingdom of God on earth.

The Old Testament recounts the many ways our Jewish ancestors prepared for the coming of the Messiah. With Christmas just 8 days away, we prepare our hearts for His coming.  How will we welcome Him into our world and our lives?

—Lauren Gaffey is Director of Programs and Administration at Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality.