Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reflection for Tuesday, December 17

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.
            ~Matthew 1:17

            I believe I am not alone when I find readings with the genealogy of Jesus to be a tad tedious and repetitive.  Since these points are usually the focus of homilies, I know that the evangelist Matthew is trying to maintain the humanity of Jesus while also tying his lineage to Abraham and David to show that Jesus fit the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah.  However, it was not until I understood the historicity of the writer and the numerology of “fourteen” that I began to have a greater appreciation for the layers of meaning sandwiched between the many names I cannot properly pronounce.
            First of all, repetition is a key factor in literature at the time that Matthew wrote this Good News about Jesus.  Think about it in this way…only the learned and the wealthy at this time had access to the written word, let alone the materials to create them.  From our perspective, it may have cost the Gospel writers the equivalent of one dollar per word when you take into consideration the time and money to create paper and ink then write everything out – no unlimited texting for them!  So when biblical authors wrote something, they meant it; when they repeated something, it was even that much more imperative that it be said.
            Secondly, numbers have underlying meaning for biblical authors like Matthew.  So I did some research…what I found was that fourteen is the doubling of seven – the biblical number for perfection.  Therefore, when the number fourteen is used it usually refers to deliverance or salvation.
            So in reflecting upon the gospel reading for this day in Advent, I pray that you embrace three things: the significance and love of the God who humbled God’s self to be incarnate for you, me, and all of humanity; the passion of those who retell this story in every generation; and last, the desire of both to have the love of God fully realized and incarnate in your life.  This is our salvation – the fulfillment of who we were meant to be as beings made to love and be loved.

Erin Schmidt is the Campus Ministry Liturgy Coordinator.

*Numerology from “Meaning of Numbers in the Bible: The Number Fourteen” (http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/14.html)

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