Matthew 1:18-23 How Did I Get Here?
How did I get here? Who am I? Do I realize that I am the fruit of so many people and cultures? Do I realize that I survived conflicts, disease and famines? For the Jewish people, genealogy and history were extremely important. It was a reminder, a sign, of destiny. That a hand from above still guided and directed their history and life! The Jews recorded their genealogy, they tracked it and they appreciated it. This is what has made the Jewish race such a united race. It is common, too common, for many of us today to not even know the names of our own great grandparents. This of course leads to belittling them and formulating superficial conclusions, as if they were backward and uncivilized. In fact, they were most likely more civilized than we are today! It is safe to say that with a loss of our own personal heritage, we lose our own sense of destiny, of worth and of personal identity.
An uncle of mine recently passed away, but before doing so he had the grace to write a personal memoire. Every evening he would sit down and write a few lines about his grandparents, parents and his life. For his children, it has become a family treasure. He recounted not only his life, his struggles and triumphs, but also his emotions, his sentiments – fears and joys, personal battles and devils. We should not be content in knowing just our genetic identity, but also our personal and family history.
Prior to becoming a priest, our superior requested, from those who would be ordained on Christmas Eve, to write down our own personal journey. How did we get here? What curves, bends, mountains and valleys did I walk through in my life to get to this day, my ordination day? It would have been interesting to be able to know the paths of those who had traveled before me and had left before I was born.
In Christ’s genealogy we see tremendous Saints and tremendous sinners. Can anything good come from sinners? Christ gives a resounding “Yes!” The Apostles were not afraid to say it the way it was, to put among the list of names harlots, pagans and adulterers. It is again a reminder that the Lord makes straight the paths. His Will is always accomplished with or without us, but preferably with us. St. Paul reminds us, “Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Rom 8:28)
Today, I invite all of you to reflect on your own history. Start with general ideas and work your way towards more concrete and specific moments. It is very much worthwhile. Write it down. We thank the Apostles so much for giving us their Gospel accounts and letters. We know Christ in a more intimate way because we can read the life of Christ from those who shared their life with him. You have a unique perspective of your life and of Christ’s life and work in you. It is, after all, a once-in-a-life-time event. We all love conversion stories because they touch the human heart and the hand of God. We were called into existence by God and our existence will not end until the Lord is finished with us.