The Gospel of “begot”s

Today the lectionary offers the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Growing up I remember this as the Gospel of the “begot”s since the translation was

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, …

The current translations are a little weak – “Abraham was the father of Isaac,” etc.

The list is long – three groups of fourteen. But it is full of surprises. The men are not saints – including the adulterer and murderer David.  There are also five women – unusual in a Jewish genealogy – including, a prostitute, an adulteress, a foreigner, and Mary. And then there are the many unknown.

What is one to make of this?

Gail Godwin, in her novel Evensong, excerpted in Watch for the Light: Reading for Advent and Christmas, has Margaret, an Episcopal priest, inspired by the Catholic biblical scholar Raymond Brown, explain this.

If so much powerful stuff can have been accomplished down through the millennium by wastrels, betrayers, and outcasts, and through people who were such complex mixtures of sinner and saint, and through so many obscure and undistinguished others, isn’t that a pretty hopeful testament to the likelihood that God is using us, with our individual flaws and gifts, in all manner of peculiar and unexpected ways?

And so, how is God using us today? To paraphrase Megan McKenna, though we may be nobodies, we still belong to God and God can work great things through us.

 

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