With today’s longer Gospel reading of an obscure-sounding family tree, you might do a double-take and think that Christmas has come early. Instead, it’s the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. At times, it can seem like the Church has a bewildering array of special days relating to Mary–and sometimes the real connection to each of our lives can be lost. But in today’s Gospel reading it’s all about the surprising power of individuals. Unlikely individuals, who reveal how much God cares and loves each of us personally.
As the Gospel author traces Jesus’ family tree we stumble upon some women with unusual stories–Tamar, who disguises herself as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law; Ruth, a non-Israelite woman who who seizes her own destiny by boldly and shockingly presenting herself to Boaz, a powerful Israelite; and finally Mary, who is “found with child through the Holy Spirit” while betrothed to Joseph, a man with a genealogy tracing to Abraham, the founding ancestor of God’s people, Israel.
Today in 2014, the world is a big place. Over 7 billion people live on our planet. 7 billion. Why would God want a personal relationship with any of us? Wouldn’t God simply seek out the most perfect, most ideal, most popular, most influential people around to be part of his divine plan?
The stories of Tamar, Ruth, and Mary show us that God doesn’t think like we do at all. He’s not out to love only those with “normal” stories–God loves each and every person, each and every one of us. This love is so divine, so beyond our understanding that God sent his only Son to become human, to suffer and die, and take away our sins so that we can live in friendship with Him here on earth and in eternity. Today’s celebration is a reminder of the deepest reality that no matter what the world says, none of us is insignificant to God.