T H E A N C E S T O R S O F J E S U S C H R I S T
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1: 1)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
The Holy Gospels, attempting to narrate the human origin of Jesus Christ, offer us two genealogical lists. First, the gospel of St Matthew begins its genealogical list mentioning David the king as a descendant of Abraham and ends it with the name of Jacob the father of Joseph the Betrothed. Joseph, as it is known, accepted under his protection Mariam from whom “was born Jesus who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1: 16)
The other evangelist who presents a genealogical list is St Luke. Luke the evangelist begins his genealogic list with Joseph the Betrothed and ends it with Adam, the head of the human race. We may mention that the way of presenting the names in the two lists follows the opposite direction. Matthew on the one hand ends his list of names with Joseph the Betrothed whereas Luke begins his list of names with Joseph the Betrothed. Additionally, the reader of the two genealogical lists needs to bear in mind to whom the evangelist is addressing his gospel. Matthew wrote to Christians of Judaic origin. Thus, he records Abraham, who the Jews stated that they honoured and respected. Luke addressed his gospel to the Honourable Theophilos, Governor of Achaia, who became Christian although he had a gentile origin, that is he was previously an idolater. Luke records Adam in his list to show the universal dimension of the salvific message of Jesus Christ.
However, if we read more carefully the list of names as it is presented by Matthew, we will come to the conclusion that its universal character is not missing. Rahab also belongs to the chain of grandmothers of Jesus Christ. She was a Canaanite, a prostitute. One of the Jewish soldiers who entered her land as a spy took her as his wife. One may say that her origin implies the universal character of the gospel. Ruth also, after she became a widow, married Boaz who was related to her mother-in-law, Naomi. She is also a link in the chain of the grandmothers of Jesus Christ. However, she was not Jewish but a Moabite. Her case also adds to the universal character of the gospel.
As it has become apparent among the personalities which are recorded in the genealogical lists there are cases of holy people and also other personalities with very severe and sinful past. One such person was David the King who, however, left a notable example of repentance and restoration of his relationship with God. Additionally, among them is Judas and his daughter-in-law Tamar, from whom he had twins.
We need to bear in mind that the people bearing heavy sins are not recorded to scandalise the conscience of the listeners and the readers. Rather, they are recorded to show how low man had descended and Christ came from heaven of His own will, to lead man to salvation, just and sinners who belong to the genealogical list consist the progenitors of Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
Some people may raise the question why we do not have the genealogy of Mariam the mother of Jesus and we have Joseph’s instead. We need to remember that according to the Jewish custom people were married between them if they belonged to the same tribe. Joseph and Mariam both belonged to the tribe of Judas. Thus, by having Joseph’s genealogy, at the same time we have Mariam’s as well. Next Sunday is Christmas Day. The metallic sound of the church bells and the wide open doors will invite all faithful, young and old, insignificant and famous, illiterate and wise with the words: “let us hasten to see where Christ was born”, to run to Him like the shepherds of Bethlehem, to worship Him as the wise Magi of the East, to offer Him as gift our sins in order for Him to wash them away and to redeem us and together with the angels sing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all men.” Amen!
C O M M U N I T Y N E W S
MEALS FOR THE ELDERLY: The meals for the elderly during the month of December were subsidized by the following kind donors: Eleni Antoniou in memory of her beloved departed Evangelos, Prodromos, Elisabeth, Antonios and Eftychia; the family of Demetrakis and Androulla Nicolaides in memory of their beloved parents Meropi and Nicolas; Dora Philippou; the family of Androulla Poirazi-Stavrou in memory of her beloved departed husband Demetrakis and the Greek Women’s Philanthropic Association (Finchley & Barnet), who apart from offering lunch gave Christmas gifts to our elderly. We thank all the kind donors for their generosity and consideration towards this cause. When there was no donor the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA had the responsibility to offer the meals towards the elderly. The Committee for the Elderly presented Christmas cards as well as the Archdiocese’s small diary.
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS: We would like to inform all our honoured elderly that the meals will stop on Thursday, 15th December 2011. They will resume again on Tuesday, 10th January 2012.
YOUTH CLUB: The Youth Club will close for the Christmas holidays on Tuesday, 13th December 2011.
SPIRITUAL GATHERINGS: The spiritual gatherings will stop for the Christmas holidays on Tuesday, 13th December 2011. These will begin again on Tuesday, 10th January 2012.
GREEK SCHOOL LESSONS: The Greek Schools of St Barnabas will stop their lessons today Sunday, 18th December 2011, at the end of the Christmas Concert.
VASILOPITTA FOR THE NEW YEAR: At the end of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, 1st January 2012, the traditional Vasilopitta is blessed, cut and distributed to all the congregation. We would ask all those of you who will be preparing a Vasilopitta for your family to please prepare an extra one and bring it to the Church for distribution to the faithful. At the end of the prayers for the Vasilopitta you are invited to the church halls for tea or coffee. A raffle will be given to all those present and the lucky ones will win a prize.
VASILOPITTA AT THE ARCHDIOCESE: On New Year’s Eve, Saturday evening, 31st December 2011, Vespers will be sung at the chapel of the Annunciation in our Archdiocese. This will begin at 6.00 p.m. At the end of the service, as it is customary, His Eminence Gregorios, the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, will bless, cut and distribute the Vasilopitta to all those present. The Chancellor of the Archdiocese, His Grace Athanasios, Bishop of Tropaeou, will deliver the customary speech referring to the work of the Archdiocese for the year 2011.
PARENTS AND CHILDREN’S GROUP: For some time now parents and small children meet at St Barnabas church hall after the church service, for coffee and a chat. This activity also gives the children the opportunity to play and socialise together. All parents with small children are invited to come. Time: approximately 11.00 a.m.
RENEWAL OF SUBSCRIPTIONS: The subscriptions for the Community (£50.00), Pantanassa (£25.00) and the Archdiocese Magazine (£15.00) are now due. If you have not already paid your subscriptions or wish to subscribe to any or all of these you may contact our Community’s offices.
PANTANASSA’S FUNCTION: On Thursday, 19th January 2012, the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA are organising a social evening where a hot meal will be served. Price for each ticket is £20.00. All are welcome at 7.30 p.m.
HOLY MYRRH: This coming Holy Week the service of blessing the Holy Myrrh will take place at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George in Constantinople. You may be aware that the Holy Myrrh used for baptisms throughout Orthodoxy is distributed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The preparation is very costly. We are all therefore invited to contribute generously towards this need.