‘…for the whole Bible draws its strength from a continuity of history and from the fidelity of God to His promises…’
Commentary on Matthew 1:1-17
Today I see in the sacred page the importance of history. It always helps to call to mind from time to time that if the whole creation were to be viewed at once without the concept of time, we, individually are but a part, a fragment, a cell of the whole of the human race. This helps also when we consider a cause, when a whole line of people from ages passed have continually pursued a cause, and lived their lives, consciously or unconsciously towards the furtherance of that cause. This fact points to the truth that if God exists, and Christianity is true, then, we are key players in the fulfillment of God’s promises.
First, I see that the writer of the Gospel of Matthew writes on and on about a genealogy, spanning over 42 generations along a timeline of history. Abraham was the father of… who bore… and was a son of…. There is a temptation to just read through the genealogy without deep thought as to whether or not it has a meaning. But imagine that someone like Manasseh was born just like we were born, but maybe with a silver spoon, though that does not really matter. He was born into this world that we live in, breathed the air we breathe, cried the first cries of a baby, suckled from his mother, walked on the land we tread, drank from the oceans we drink from, saw the rain fall and the sun shine, but never had the faintest idea, that his name will be mentioned in the first book of the gospel of a particular world religion as one of the ancestors of one who is now believed to be God-Man. He probably lived his life with some instruction of sorts and was a Jew, but if we go back to the old testament pages or if we can live in those times again, with the knowledge we have now, we would see that, the outcome of today had something to do with something Manasseh did so many years ago, a decision he had to take, a choice he made when he was confused and torn between two realms of choices, even something as little as a decision to stay alive by eating or resting when he was tired, or staying away from harm’s way, or marrying a particular lady. These things contributed to the Gospel we read today as the Good News, the Word of God. For his name carries with it his person and all that this person did as relates to his vision and his mission, including all that happened to him.
The same goes with Abiud, and Salathiel and Akim!!!
I gain the following lessons from these pages:
-we are the writers of the future’s history, and
-we in the present live the events that are the outcomes of our history’s future.
That we are the writers of the future’s history is a very salient point, a truth that should be engraved in our very hearts and minds. Every action of ours will determine how our world will be in the next 2000 years, just as what the ancestors of Christ did contributed to our having Christianity and the bible today.
The future should always be in our consciousness. Every action of ours will have a consequence, either on us or on the world they, in the future, will live in. this year is 2013. Last year, the Archdiocese of Owerri and Owerri ecclesiastical province celebrated 100 years of the advent of the Christian faith to their region and the founding of their faith community. On their faces it was all smiles, they were celebrating history. But the truth is that very very very few of them ever saw face to face or spoke with or shook hands with the very people who had brought this faith to them. They knew their names for sure, but most of them never saw them, or helped them make decisions as to which town to go to or not, but these over a million faithful, rejoiced and jubilated over something some people did.
But on that occasion, the shepherd of that flock, the Archbishop A. J. V. Obinna, made a remark which I would like to point out because it touched me greatly. He asked the people to let the light of Christ in them shine out, he asked them to take care in their handling of the faith community in their region, so that the people alive in the next 100 years would also have second centenary to celebrate. It also touched me when he remarked that almost none of them would be present at that second centenary celebration, probably not even the babies born on that day of the celebration.
So we are the writers of the future’s history. Just like we look back at the things Manasseh did, people in a world we will never see, will look back at something we did, or rather we do now, something we may say now, something, a decision we may take now. And whether we want our stories to be told like the story of Isaac or like the story of Nebuchadnezzar, we would have to choose. If we want our future generations to be good, if we want our future world to be good, we had better start garnishing it with good.
But there is something else, it is a fact that in the genealogy of Christ, for example, not all the decisions made by those men were good, but still a will pushed through. We read in the sacred pages of how even David’s fornication with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, gave Solomon to us, the wise king of Israel, in whose reign also Judaism came to Ethiopia.
A truth we should therefore remember is that, though we are the writers of history, we are not the ultimate authors of it. Something else, or someone else is, God is, and his will is pushing through. It only takes a moment’s pause to view the whole of history, past and present, to see that the events of our existence are ordered to an ultimate goal, an ultimate end, that to our normal reason is very uncertain and unpredictable.
Again this point makes me also realize that very important component of this whole truth- Tradition. The importance of handing on, of transmitting the truths of the present and the revelations of the past to our immediate future. Without this, there would have been no Bible, there would have been no Christianity and the page on Matthew 1:1-17 would not exist, and it is that simple.
Finally, without tradition, without the tradition that has been handed down from over 3000 years, I would not have known about Christianity, I would not have had any basis to write the lines I have just written.
One importance of handing on the truths of the present and the revelations of the past to our future generation is that as they come to know these things, in relation to the events of their time, they may better see the extent of the will of the One whose will is pushing through the events of the times. They would not need a fresher course on things we already have settled here, and they would make better decisions and choices in the world they would live in. jnust as the apostles of Christ and the Christian Church today were able to see through the events of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah and Ezekiel, the prophets, David and Hezekiah, the kings, Ruth and Bathsheba, the womwn of old, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ.
And to the second point, doesn’t it pay to therefore appreciate history and meditate on it more? Doesn’t it pay to learn one or two things each day of the heroes of times past, of the errors of men, and of the teachings of the wise? For the truth is, if there is God, then He must not be subject to time. There is no past, present or future to Him. Everything must be present to him at once without passing or fading, for he is even the maker of time. He can be within it, operating through it, but he can never be limited by it or be subject to it. And that is why he is called God- omnipresent. Note that the word denotes that he is not just present everywhere in a particular limited time frame, but present in every place, every time, every people, every space and every age.
As I write this, I am conscious that you who read it, will read it, who opened it, will open it, and I write it, not because of me alone, but because of you, conscious also that my writing it and your reading it, has a ripple to stir in the big picture!