Archbishop’s Teaching

8th Sunday of Advent Genealogy of Jesus Mt 1, 1-17

Homily of His Excellency Msgr Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
8th Sunday of Advent

Genealogy of Jesus
Mt 1, 1-17

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

1. The promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus. Matthew strives to prove
that Jesus is descended from Abraham and David. Matthew's Gospel was
probably written in or around Jerusalem for the benefit of Jews who had
converted to Christianity. From the first sentence, Matthew wants to prove
that God's promises to Jesus are being fulfilled. He specifically mentions
Abraham and David, because they received the most important promises.
God promised that Abraham would become the father of a great nation
and that he would inherit a fertile land for his people. It seems that this
promise was fulfilled when the Israelites entered the Promised Land.
2. God promises great things. Even more impressive is the promise of God
to establish the kingdom of David. David, a descendant of Abraham, ruled
over a great many people, even in the land God had promised. His
kingdom rivaled that of Egypt, the greatest kingdom known to the
Israelites, an ancient kingdom whose kings claimed to be divine
descendants of the Sun God. In the kingdom of David, God's promise has
not yet been fully realized. God promises a descendant greater than David
who will reign forever. A summary of the prophets' statements about the
kingdom shows that God will send an immortal king who will reign over
an eternal kingdom.
3. God's promise is fulfilled in Jesus and his disciples. These promises are
fulfilled in Jesus. For the Jews, seven is the number of fulfillment, of
completion. A Jew would expect the promise to be fulfilled in the seventh
generation after Abraham. But this is not the case. In the seventh
generation, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. In the fourteenth
generation, the promise seems to be fulfilled with King David. But God
continues to reinforce his promise. Matthew shows us that it is fulfilled in
the person who begins the seventh group of seven generations. It is Jesus
who begins this group. Who are the members of this seventh group, the
"descendants" of Jesus in this blessed generation? It is us, those who, Jew
or Gentile, form the Church that Jesus founded. Jesus is the long-awaited
Messiah, and his Church is the fulfillment of the promises made to
Abraham and David.

Prayer: Come, Wisdom of God, who guides creation with power and love,
teach us to walk in the paths of knowledge. Lord, give us the grace to
believe in your promises with the same depth of faith that allowed the first
Christians to conquer the world for Jesus. Lord Jesus, give us great faith
in your Church. It is the Kingdom of the Messiah promised to Abraham
and David by the prophets. Help us to see it with the eyes of faith. Thank
you for everything the Church offers us, for it is the path you have chosen
for all mankind. Amen.

+ Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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