Genealogy

This post is inspired by a sermon given by my spiritual father, Fr. Brian, pastor of Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Church.

The Gospel reading for the Sunday before the Nativity presents the Genealogy of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.

Everyone has a history. Our history connects us with the past. We speak of and remember our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and a whole host of other family members. These family members are usually our living connections to our past.

Many families have someone who has studied family genealogy going back hundreds of years. In my family, it is my second cousin, Billy Zoe, who has traced our family back to England right before the Puritan voyage. My forefathers came to America right after the first Puritan settlers settled New England.

In many cultures, family pedigree is very important. Mormonism places an enormous emphasis on family genealogy.

In Judaism, especially at the time of our Lord, family genealogy was important. To be Jewish was to be a member of a family that had a special covenant with the One God. To be a member of that family, one had to be a descendant of Abraham and a member of one of the twelve Tribes of Israel. A gentile could convert to Judaism but it was rare.

The expected Messiah was to be of the house of David. God promised to David that a descendant would arise that would save his people and rule as King forever. Saint Matthew knew of the Davidic lineage of the promised Messiah. So he takes great care in outlining Jesus’s lineage. He traces Our Lord’s genealogy from Abraham to Christ’s birth.

Our Lord’s genealogy is full of great heroes. It is also full of terrible sinners. Our Lord’s family is like our family. Yet, God is faithful to his promise. Out of our broken humanity, the Messiah arose and saved us.

Our Lord’s humanity is manifested in his family history. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. He is perfect in both his humanity and divinity. Yet, he has a family past full of great saints and sinners. He is the fulfillment of the Messianic promise given to his forefather David. He transforms his genealogy and saves mankind.

The Nativity is the feast of God becoming flesh. The birth of the Incarnate second person of the Holy Trinity. Let us remember our own family, as we worship the savior of the world, who came to transform all of us.

Pope Francis in Georgia

Pope Francis recently visited the country of Georgia. Georgia is a majority Orthodox country with a small Roman and Greek Catholic Minority. The Holy Father attending a concert at the Patriarchal Cathedral. This is a short clip of the concert. It is breathtaking. Glory to God.

Recently, His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke at a banquet in Canada. His full speech is well worth reading, especially in regards to the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute. You can read the full address here.

His Beatitude makes an important theological, ecclesial, and political statement within this address. It is worth posting for all to see.

His Beatitude said:

Our Church has been singled out by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine as some sort of ultranationalist force bent on sowing hatred towards the Orthodox culture of Russia, and the single greatest impediment to worldwide Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation.

That is why I find it important to be able to stand before you today at this great university and state the following in the most unequivocal terms. The Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches is not in any way opposed to the Orthodox Churches. We are an Orthodox Church, with Orthodox theology, liturgy, spirituality and canonical tradition that chooses to manifest this Orthodoxy in the spirit of the first Christian millennium, in communion with Rome.  We are witnesses to the fact that Christian East and West not only have an obligation to seek some vague rapprochement, but are called by our Savior Himself to actually live the unity of one Body of Christ, not in the subjugation of one to another, but in the loving union of the Three Divine Persons who live not three lives parallel to each other, but one life: a life of self-emptying love, that gives life rather than take it. It is our mission, as a Church that experienced great persecution and martyrdom in the twentieth century, to stand up for those who experience such persecution today: our brothers and sisters the Copts of Egypt, the Melkites, Chaldeans, Syrian Orthodox, Assyrians, and others in the Middle East. It is our duty to help them tell their stories in this, one of the most respected forums of the world.

Amen.