HOMILY FOR THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
THEME: GOD USES THE USELESS
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 8 2022
‘Thus says the Lord: You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel (Micah 5:2)
The Gospel of today (Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23), presents the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Genealogies were especially important to the Jewish people. Israel’s king had to be a Jew, and not a foreigner (Deuteronomy 17:15). Later on it was revealed that he must be a descendant of David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16). When the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, it was important for these returned exiles to show that their roots were Jewish and could be traced through the genealogies. No one could serve as priest whose name could not be found in the genealogical records (Ezra 2:62). Then there was Herod the Great, who was half-Jew and half-Edomite. Obviously his name was not in the official genealogies, and thus he ordered that the records be destroyed. If he couldn’t be found there, he did not want to be upstaged by anyone else.
The genealogy contains the unusual presence of four women. Women were rarely mentioned in ancient genealogies. And the four mentioned here are examples of God’s grace. It shows how God can use those we think are not worthy in great ways. Tamar sold herself as a prostitute to her father-in-law to bring forth Perez and Zerah (Gen. 38). Rahab was a gentile prostitute, for whom God took extraordinary measures to save from both judgement and lifestyle of prostitution (Joshua 2; 6:22-23). Ruth was from Moab, a gentile and until her conversion out of the covenant of Israel (Ruth 1). Bathsheba was an adultress.
These four women have important place in the genealogy of Jesus to show that He identifies with sinners in His genealogy, even as He will in His birthday, baptism, life and death. Jesus is never ashamed of our insignificant root.
The First Reading (Micah 5:2-5) shows a demonstration of this gracious changing of our nothingness to something, grass to grace. Bethlehem is one of the “little clans.” The Hebrew word might better be translated “least” or even “insignificant.” It is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe one who is younger, or one who is lesser in social status and power.
We know this story well. Jacob, Joseph, David himself–these are the younger brothers, the ones not supposed to be chosen. In fact, biblical law commands that the older brother gets the birthright, no matter the feelings of the father (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
And yet, it happens again and again. The youngest is chosen. Jacob gets the birthright and the blessing. Joseph is exalted over his brothers. David is overlooked until all of his brothers have been paraded before Samuel. Then, finally, he is called in from the pastures surrounding Bethlehem to stand before the prophet and be anointed king (1 Samuel 16).
The most unlikely, the most insignificant, are exalted. “But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
The village is a backwater, and the one who comes from it cannot be expected to amount to much. One thinks of Nathanael’s statement when he hears about Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
Can anything good come out of Nazareth, or Bethlehem? It is a judgment both on the town and on those who live there. And yet, in the case of Bethlehem and those who come from her, the old biblical pattern holds true: the insignificant are exalted. The tables are turned, and the most unlikely of people are instruments of God’s salvation. From this insignificant little village, a young shepherd boy grows up to become the most beloved king in Israel’s history. And a descendant of that king fulfills God’s long-awaited promises of deliverance, not just for Israel, but for the whole world made possible through unnatural process accepted by an innocent young Virgin. It is not the way of the world, this exaltation of the lowliest. But it is the way God works, over and over again.
Do you ever look at your background with regret? Do you feel your root is insignificant? Mary came from a humble background. God does everything well. He makes no mistakes. You may not know what God is making out of your situation. Have confidence in Him. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world, bless and protect us all through Christ our Lord Amen. Happy Celebration. Please, stay safe. Good morning
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