Names…a whole list of names: if there were anything that we would remember about the 2nd Simbang Gabi, it would be the list of names in the family record of the Lord Jesus. What may seem to be a roll call of ancestors of the Lord is actually a brief survey of the Old Testament which was God’s preparation of history for the incarnation of his only Begotten Son. As we have been meditating about joy, the family tree of Jesus gives us the occasion to consider how Christian joy was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Blessed Paul VI, in his encyclical “Gaudete in Domino,” said: “Christian joy is the spiritual sharing in the unfathomable joy, both divine and human, which is in the heart of Jesus Christ glorified. As soon as God the Father begins to manifest in history the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,(12) this joy is mysteriously announced in the midst of the People of God, before its identity has been unveiled.” (Gaudete in Domino, 1)
The joy of Abraham over the birth of Isaac, his only begotten son, was a prophecy of the joy at the birth of God’s only Begotten Son into the world. When Abraham was subjected to a test that demanded of him to sacrifice to God his beloved son Isaac, he received back his son alive – such was the prophecy of the resurrection of the Christ who was to come in order to complete the sacrifice. Abraham looked forward to the day of the Lord which he longed to see. “Abraham saw that day and rejoiced.”
“The joy of salvation then increases and is transmitted throughout the prophetic history of ancient Israel. It persists and is unfailingly reborn in the course of tragic trials due to the culpable infidelities of the chosen people and to the external persecutions which try to detach them from their God. This joy, ever threatened and springing up again, is proper to the people born of Abraham.”
Thus, when we look at the family tree of the Lord, we see the constant highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies and in all of them, we discover how the joy of salvation persists and is always reborn. And what accounts for this persistence of joy? It comes from the fact that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his faithfulness never comes to an end. God faithfully guided this history towards Christ his Son. Through thick and thin, through hell and high water, God was always there. When all seemed lost during the time of the exile, God surprised us by keeping the lineage of David intact. His promise endured even when in spite of the threat of external enemies and even the infidelities of God’s own people. The “uplifting experience of liberation and restoration (at least foretold),” has “its origin in the merciful love of God for His beloved people, on whose behalf He accomplishes, by pure grace and miraculous power, the promises of the Covenant.” Joy is born of knowing that in spite of the harmful things which we have afflicted ourselves, God’s love remains constant. He guides all the movements of history towards the fulfillment of his plan of salvation in Christ.
It was when Jesus resurrected from the dead that the entire story of salvation really made sense. From this point of view, we are able to look back at everything that happened and thereby say to ourselves: Now I understand…everything would really come to this great victory over sin. Looking back at everything, we recognize the hand of the Lord lovingly guiding all this towards the new creation in Christ. Then we become thankful for God’s fidelity. When it happens, we shall be filled with joy. “For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you."
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!