December 17 – Late Advent Weekday
Genesis 49:2,8-10 + Matthew 1:1-17
December 17, 2019
… Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
“Late Advent Weekday” is the term that describes the last eight days of Advent, beginning on December 17. The Sacred Liturgy—including the Divine Office and Holy Mass—shifts slightly in tone as the Church’s preparation for the Messiah intensifies.
Each year on December 17 (unless the date falls on a Sunday), the Church proclaims the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel account at Holy Mass. Matthew begins his account of the Gospel with a genealogy from Abraham to David to Jesus.
At the beginning of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, he comments on the significance of Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies. He observes that Matthew focuses on Abraham as a faithful wayfarer, whose life points forward. As such, Pope Benedict quotes from the Letter to the Hebrews: “He looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” [11:10].
This City of God can be understood as the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. This Church is universal in nature, and Abraham points towards this universality: Pope Benedict points out these two truths about the Church by citing two Scripture verses: “Make disciples of all nations” [Matthew 28:19]; and “all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him” [Genesis 18:18].
The universality to which Abraham points is complemented by the sense of eternity to which King David points. Pope Benedict notes this verse from the Second Book of Samuel: “Your throne shall be established for ever” [7:16]. The Holy Father observes how the entire genealogy presented by Matthew “is truly a Gospel of Christ the King: the whole of history looks toward him whose throne is to endure for ever.”
Our own day, of course, is included in “the whole of history”. We, in our own day, must look forward to Christ the King, not to ourselves. The Christ Child whose birth we await with Mary and Joseph is destined to be our King, Emmanuel. As our King wants nothing more than to be “God with us”, we ought in prayer today to dedicate ourselves always to remain with God, no matter where He leads.