Friday, December 18, 2020

The Way to the Father's House

The Apostle & Evangelist Matthew
A reflection and poem by Sr. Petra for the Sunday before Christmas:

This Sunday of the Ancestors of the Lord is given us to remind us that God deigns--nay, delights--to work through His creatures: so much so, that He chose to become a Man, complete with a lineage of flawed human forebearers. We should pay particular attention to the genealogy St. Matthew presents to us: it includes people with far-from-pristine pasts, stories riddled with suffering and sin. Tamar, wronged by her father-in-law Judah, connived to ensnare him in incest. Rahab (the mother of Boaz) was a harlot before she hid the Israelite spies who came to her city. Ruth was a Moabitess, a foreigner from an idolatrous people, yet she was the grandmother of Jesse and the great-grandmother of King David. Solomon, of course, was a fruit of the relationship between David and Bathsheba, which began in adultery and murder. In fact, some of these ancestors were so wicked that their names were blotted out of the Hebrew genealogies. Thus, Joram was not actually the father of Uzziah as Matthew writes in verse 8, but his great, great grandfather. Because Joram had married one of the idolatrous daughters of Jezebel, his family was under a curse! But the reality is that God chose to come from just such as these--and He still chooses to enter the world through our feeble humanity. Undaunted and undeterred by our sins and failures, He mercifully gathers them into His loving hands and works our good, and the salvation of the world. My spiritual father told me recently, "God loves, loves, LOVES to work through secondary causes. He would rather work through you than alone." This is the wonder of the Incarnation. This is the startling truth of our Faith: Despites our falls and failings, The Trinity works through us to open the way to the Father's House.

Tamar: Felix Culpa (Genesis 38)

[Felix Culpa means "Happy (or blessed) Fault"]

Wedded to one wicked

who was slain by the Lord,

given to his brother

who denied what was yours,

you returned a widow

to your father’s house.

You waited for the third

son of Judah to come

fulfill your desire

by giving you a son.

But the years stole your hope

in your father’s house.

Since you were forsaken

by your father-in-law,

you laid aside mourning,

his lustful seed to draw.

Draped in a harlot’s veil,

you left your father’s house.

By the road at Enaim

you sat and you waited.

He paid to come to you,

his urge to be sated.

By deceit you became

your father-in-law’s house.

After three months had passed,

it was told:  Judah learned

that you were with child.

He judged, “Let her be burned.”

Pregnant, you were led out

of your father’s house.

You sent him the tokens

he’d given you as pledge

of pay for using you

as you lay on the edge

of the road to Timnah,

beyond your father’s house.

Then Judah acknowledged

his sinful deeds with shame.

The life that you carried

would indeed share his name.

At last, you bore two sons

in their father’s house.

Tamar, woman bereft,

you stretched forth grasping hands

to seize your rightful fruit

and establish your land.

Yet through you came the way

to the Father’s House.

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