Christmas: The Sanctity of Life

As I was driving to church this morning, I was thinking about the Gospel lesson for today, the Sunday before Christmas (Matthew 1:1-25). This is the Gospel lesson which contains the long genealogy of Christ. We might be tempted as Christians to say that in that whole list of births, there is only one birth that really matters – the Nativity of Jesus Christ. But that would exactly miss Matthew’s point. The very point of the text is that all the births mattered, even those of the nefarious characters in the genealogy, because they each were an essential birth in the history of humanity necessary for the advent of the Savior to enter into the world. Every one of the births are of the utmost importance as the birth of Christ would not have occurred without this exact history unfolding as it did (though the bible doesn’t ever mention genetics, the fact is Mary and Joseph genetically are who they are because of their ancestries). Of course in Orthodoxy, though Matthew’s genealogy traces Joseph’s ancestors, it really is the genealogy of Mary the Theotokos which is of genetic and human significance for the incarnate Word of God. Joseph’s role is not genetic, but certainly is one of husbandly and fatherly nurture. All the births in the Scriptural genealogies are thus essential and matter for the salvation of the world because they lead to Jesus Christ. Christ’s birth is certainly unique in His being also the Son of God, but His is not the only birth which matters. We read the genealogy of Christ precisely because every one of the births and the personages recorded in the genealogy is significant fo r the salvation of the world, even if most indirectly. That is why we have the Sunday before Christmas dedicated to the memory of the ancestors of Christ. Furthermore in Christian thinking, the birth of every human since the time of Christ also is significant for the life of the world. No human ever conceived is inconsequential to the world, every single human conceived and ever human who is born matters to God and to the people of God.This is why we as a Church embrace the sanctity of human life. It is also why we pray for the salvation of the world – of every human who exists. And it is why you yourself are so important to God, to our parish, and to me personally. I give thanks to God for you!

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