It is interesting that Luke begins his Gospel with a description of what is to come in his version of Jesus' life: an orderly account. While Matthew, who bases all that he writes on the "dis-order" of Mark, begins his account with a very structured laying out of the genealogy of Jesus' birth. This optional reading we are given today from the Gospel of Matthew sets out three distinct groupings of fourteen generations, from Abraham to Jesus. Many scholars have sat down with calendars and calculators to disprove Matthew's genealogy. I believe we miss one of the point's Matthew is trying to make. When we get stuck in the literalism of all of this, we lose the broader and more important nuances of the Gospel.
Notice the women Matthew mentions in the first grouping of fourteen: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah. The stories about these women in the Hebrew Testament are fascinating accounts of women who were strong in very different ways from one another. And the last woman Matthew mentions is Mary: another individual whose strength and courage fleshes out what faithful living entails.
Matthew was taking dis-order and trying to put orderliness to Jesus' life, writing to a community for whom order and connection to the great Hebrew Testament past was vital. He is showing that within messiness (as in the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah and Mary's stories) we can still find orderliness and wonder and God's saving hand guiding us to right action.
Look below the surface today, is one of the things our Gospel is pointing us toward. Appreciate the beauty of dis-order and even chaos, for God is in that too, creating a different kind of orderliness for us to live into and appreciate.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: VTS Campus, 2004.