On 23 December 2012, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, delivered a sermon in the chapel of Saint Gregory the Enlightener of the Patriarchal Residence in which he explained the significance of the evangelical parable of the Sunday before the Nativity of the Lord of Saint Evangelist Matthew 1:1-24, referring to the Genealogy of the Saviour.
“Today’s Gospel is full of spiritual meaning showing us that the preparation God made for Christ’s coming urged us too to a six weeks preparation through fasting, prayer, chant, mercy, in order to receive with joy and spiritual utility the Great Holy Feast of the Nativity of the Lord or Christmas. Thus, the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is somehow prepared through this Sunday of the Gospel read today, namely it shows us that God has a plan for the salvation of the world which is developed in preparatory stages so that God appealed to people and observed their freedom to answer His call. Saint Evangelist Matthew and Saint Evangelist Luke want to show in the list of nations or generations presented the biological relation till the Nativity of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, when the Son of God is incarnated and He becomes the Son of man. Thus, there is a mysterious work of the Most Holy Trinity”, said His Beatitude, as Trinitas Radio station informs us.
The present generations are generations of righteous people, of people of faith
“Certainly, there is a difference, namely the fact that the Gospel according to Saint Evangelist Matthew is addressed to the Jews and this is why the genealogy begins with Abraham, while Saint Evangelist Luke’ Gospel is addressed to the nations, thus to some other peoples too, besides the Jews, so that the genealogy he presents goes beyond Abraham reaching Adam whom God created as the first man, as the forerunner of the human race, together with Eve. So, the forerunners Adam and Eve are the beginning of the human race. What we notice especially in today’s Gospel in regard to the counting of the generations from Abraham till Christ is this continuity of the biological parents of Jesus Christ, our Lord, till Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, who came from Jude’s nation. Why is this continuity established from the men’s side? The generations are grouped in three groups of 14 nations of generations. This grouping in three is a symbolic understanding of the mysterious work of the Holy Trinity in humanity in order to prepare the coming into the world of the Son of the eternal God who is made man out of love for men and for their salvation. Thus, the generations are grouped in three, namely from Abraham till David, from David till the resettlement in to Babylon, and from the resettlement from Babylon till Christ. Figure 14 is made up of twice 7. Seven means perfection in the world and the fact that it is multiplied twice to result 14 means that these generations who answered the call of God have striven to reach a certain perfection both in regard to the purity of the soul and to that of the body. It should be mentioned that these generations are generations of righteous people, of people of the faith. Patriarch Abraham is the Father of faith who spiritually sees the presence of the Unseen God and goes to a promised land, but unknown. It was through faith, as today’s Apostle shows that the prophets predicted, that he saw in advance the One who would come, namely Jesus Christ. It is 42 generations, 42 nations who actively wait with hope, faith, and longing for, the coming of Messiah”, also said the Patriarch of Romania.
The preparation of the humankind for the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord, is a divine pedagogic work discreet and consistent. There are lots of persons in the Old Testament who have a symbolic significance as anticipations of Jesus Christ, such as the Righteous Abel, Righteous Joseph, innocent people; Righteous Job suffers and becomes patient in sufferance without rebelling, although he does not understand why he must suffer. So, we have images of Christ, in an anticipated form. We have prophet Elijah who crosses the River Jordan and is raised to Heaven on a chariot of fire. Thus, it is an anticipation of the Ascension of Christ to Heaven. Here is a pedagogical work of God both through writings and through the nature of some righteous persons chosen by God to be models in the world for preparing the world to receive Christ”.
People of strong faith and with much sacrificial deeds
His Beatitude has also shown that “in these 42 generations there are people with strong faith and deeds of much sacrifice. We point out especially the fact that among these people mentioned by Saint Evangelist Matthew on men’s origin there are four women too of a different nation but Jewish, who are a symbol, a sign that God works not only through men, but also through women, so that both men and women are called to deification in Christ. Thus, it is Tamara and Rahab, Canaanite Women, Ruth, a Moabite woman, and Bathsheba, a Hittite woman. We remind the fact that the calendar of December remembers Abraham on this Sunday, as well as the righteous and prophets who contributes to the preparation of the world for the coming of Christ. Our forerunners Adam and Eve are mentioned first, then the best known righteous of the Old Testament beginning with the Righteous Abel who was unjustly killed by Cain. There follows Set, and later on Sem, Noah who are anticipations of Christ and workers for the coming of Christ. There are tens of righteous mentioned for this Sunday. Then, there is the righteous and Patriarch Abraham, father of faith, son of Terah who comes from Ur, Chaldea, from a country where there were lots of pagan gods, but he is the father of faith, he believes in God, unseen but present, the Creator of the Heaven and earth. Isaac is Patriarch Abraham’s son, and Patriarch Iacov is Isaac’s son. So, there are three great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Iacov. Iacov’s twelve sons are named patriarchs too, and the fourth of them is named patriarch Jude. Christ was born from the nation of Jude, because Joseph, Maria’s fiancé belonged to Jude’s nation. So, there are the patriarchs of the Old Testament, the twelve patriarchs beginning with Ruben and finishing with Veniamin, who are the fathers of the twelve nations of Israel. After his fight with the angel Iacov was named Israel. This is why there is this relationship among the twelve tribes or nations of Israel as descendant from patriarch Iacov; so, all this work for preparing the humankind for the coming of Christ descends from James or Iacov; the change of the name of Iacob or Iacov into Israel is a prophetic one because Israel means in the Hebrew language Is-ra-El, namely the man who saw or would see God. And Iacov saw God, the shape of the angel, fought against the angel and said: “I won’t let you go until you bless me”, and he blessed Iacob, and this blessing was given for all the people of Israel as people who prepared the coming of Messiah, for the benefit of all peoples and for the salvation of all humankind”.
Christ, our Lord, wants the humans to be reborn in Him
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church emphasised the fact that the Nativity of Christ, our Saviour, was higher than nature: “There are righteous people, patriarchs, emperors of kings and lots of prophets of the Old Testament like Moses, Samuel, and Daniel, the three young men of Babylon who prefigured the work of the Most Holy Trinity in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and God’s power to save the people in hard situations, who saved the three young men from the fire in the oven of Babylon and Daniel in the den of wild lions. This power higher than nature is remembered rather often during this period in order to show that the Nativity of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is beyond nature because Christ, our Lord, is born from Virgin Mary, with no man, with no initiative of the man, so that through this special divine work, namely the biological Nativity of the Saviour from the Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary, the Nativity from the Spirit is already inaugurated. This is why in the early Church the Nativity of the Lord and the feast of the Baptism of the Lord were united. This thing showed that Christ, the Lord born from the Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary wanted the people to be reborn in Him, to become, through the work of the Holy Spirit, sons of God according to the grace, the same as He became son of man through his birth from a woman. This birth is emphasised in the second part of today’s Gospel when the angel tells Joseph that what was conceived in the Virgin was from the Holy Spirit and that she will give birth to a son whom he will name Jesus, which means that God saves, because he will save the people of their sins, using the plural, namely the people made up of lots of humans. And Joseph understood from this advice of Archangel Gabriel that the birth of the infant Jesus from Virgin Mary was an unusual one, resulted from the work of God”.
The Incarnation of Christ is designed to bring about the rebirth of humankind through the work of the Holy Baptism
“Thus, on this Sunday before the Nativity of the Lord the preparation of the generations for the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord, is presented, as well as an explanation of the fact that the biological birth of the Lord is physically a real one, but in which the initiative does not belong to the man, but to God. This is why those who will believe in Jesus and will be baptised will become sons of God according to the grace, just as Saint Evangelist John says that those who have received Him and believed in Him would be sons of God. They were given the power to become sons of God, born not from blood and man, but from God.”