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The Gospel for the Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord is Matthew 1:1-25

At Christmas, the first verses from the first Gospel of Christ remind of the startling truth of God’s deliberate plan of Salvation History that sweeps across the entire history of mankind, with the Nativity of the Lord launching Christ’s mission in the Incarnation. God’s ultimate plan is to redeem fallen humanity through Jesus Christ.

The genealogy of Christ (verses 1-17) reveal that Christ is the son of David and the son of Abraham; this is a profound claim that Christ is the Messiah.  Abraham, the patriarch chosen by God to begin the redemption of mankind, was blessed with the miraculous birth of his son Issac to the barren Sarah to fulfill the God’s promise: “…through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Gen 22:28-19). David, the descendant of Abraham and greatest King of Israel will be the kingly ancestor into who’s royal linage Christ is born; His kingdom will have no end (2 Sam 7).

The linage of Jesus underscores Christ’s plan to save all mankind. In the linage are four  women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah), all of whom are Gentiles (not Jews) which prefigure Christ’s mission to save both Jews and Gentiles alike. Remarkably, three of the four women are associated with sexual immorality (all but Ruth) which offers the most stark contrast to the miraculous birth to the Virgin Mary. Confirming Mary’s virgin birth, while all those in the genealogy are identified as “father of”, Joseph is revealed to be “husband of” (not “father of”) Mary; this confirms the virgin birth and Joseph’s legal, but not biological, fatherhood.

Verses 17-25 of Matthew’s Gospel summarizes the more detailed Infancy Narrative of Luke (Luke 1-2). Prior to the miraculous conception of the Christ, Mary and Joseph are betrothed; in ancient Judaism, couples were formally married but did not live together and consummate their marriage for up to a year. During this period of abstinence, with Mary’s fiat, Jesus Christ is conceived in Mary’s womb. Joseph, most likely told by Mary of Christ’s miraculous conception, first decides to break off the marriage, but is convinced by an angel in a dream of God’s glorious plan; Joseph give his own “fiat” and takes Mary and the unborn Child into his home.

While various explanations for Joseph’s initial reluctance have been offered (suspicion, confusion), the most logical reason is Joseph felt unprepared and unworthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is perfectly compelling and truthful; Mary would not have kept the truth from Joseph and Joseph would have believed her, for he was a supremely religious and holy man who was specifically chosen by God to be the Son’s foster father. Christ, present in Mary’s womb, would also have convinced and overwhelmed Joseph with the truth. Being holy, humble and awed by God’s miracle in Mary, Joseph would have not felt worthy or prepared to take on such a awesome responsibility. It is only through the angel’s revelation Joseph is convinced; once convinced, Joseph lives out his vocation to be the celibate husband of Mary and foster father to the Son of God.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ from the beginning of time has caused the great and mysterious blessing of Salvation History to unfold. Divine King, Christ is the culmination of and descendant in His human nature of the great kings of God’s chosen people. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood and the savior of all mankind. Divine Prophet, Christ inspires Isaiah’s prophecy of His birth which helps convince the unworthy Joseph to accept foster fatherhood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While every man has an ancestral linage, Christ’s linage mysteriously reveals the astounding fulfillment of God’s promise of the Salvation of mankind. Be awed at how God’s great plan of Salvation History is unfolding.

2) One of the great themes of Salvation History is the destructive impact of sexual immorality but how those who repent can be forgiven and be drawn into God’s blessings. During Christmas, reflect on the Call to Chastity (CCC 2337-2359) and pray for the Virgin Mary to intercede so that you may grow in chastity and love for Christ.

3) While modern society denigrates men and the absolute essential need for fathers, meditate on the truth that God the Father insisted that the Son of God have an earthly father, Joseph.  Reflect upon St. Joseph (CCC 437, 532) and pray for St. Joseph’s intercession that you might become a spiritual father to many.