Monday, June 23, 2014

The Family Annals 
The Root of Jesse, or, Christ's Family Tree

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."--Rom 8:14

The Holy Spirit that indwells in us is the Spirit of sonship by which God adopts us, by which He makes us members of His family.  If we are all sons of God, then we are all brothers and sisters of each other.  Whether we are Jew or Gentile by blood, by grace we have all become the brethren of the Jews.  For those not of direct bloodline to the Jews are a wild olive tree, and yet they have been grafted on to the cultivated olive tree, the tree of the Israelites.  So all who receive the Spirit are joined to the olive tree the Lord has cultivated since the Garden: all become of one family.

= If we are all of the same family, then our family history is shared as well.  The Scriptures are a family history, a history of the family chosen and cultivated by God.  The history of the Old Testament is the history of the Jews by race, and yet by grace we all share in that same family history.  Thus the family history of the Jews becomes our history.  We are all joined to one family that are sons of Adam, who was the son of God.  Even greater, we are united with the Son of God Who became a Jew in the flesh to divinize and unite all men and women of the world.  By Him, the dividing wall of hostility is cast down, and Jews and Gentiles are joined, and the human family becomes one, and we should treat all as brethren and all the illuminated as members of the One Body.

"Nothing gladdens Him so much as our fellow feeling for those who are members of the same Body, our manifestation of abundant affection for our brothers, and our great preoccupation with the salvation of our neighbors."--St. John Chrysostom

Thus when we read the Scriptures, we are reading our family annals.  The long genealogies are not those of some long-ago, unrelated clan: they are the records of our forefathers, of our family by grace.  The men and women of Scripture truly lived, and we will, God willing, meet most of them in Heaven, the grand and eternal family reunion.  The fact that many Bibles have pages for family records makes them so in two ways: records of our ancient ancestors and our closest kin.

When we read the text of Scripture, let us recall our connection to those written about.  Genealogies become exciting records and not just lists of names and numbers when we are kinsmen of those recorded.  It makes the small tales included in them, like the assumption of Enoch and the sorrow of Ephraim, become small glimpses at the lives of our forefathers.  Not only the Scriptures, but the histories of all the saints and holy men and women of the ages are records of our family as well.  Let us, then, be invigorated by our kinship in reading the Scriptures and the histories of the Church, for the Father has made all those who receive His Spirit into one family, the family of His sons and daughters, the family of His heirs, through Jesus Christ His Son, to Whom be glory for ever and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

"If we call our Father Him Who is incorruptible and just and good, we must prove by our life that the kinship is real."--St. Gregory of Nyssa
Christ the True Vine

Nota Bene: The quote from St. John Chrysostom is from his Baptismal Instructions II.30, translated by Paul W. Harkins as volume 31 of the Ancient Christian Writers series (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1963).  The assumption of Enoch is found in Gen 5:24; the sorrow of Ephraim is found in 1 Chr 7:21-23.  The quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa is from his Sermons on the Lord's Prayer II, found in The Lord's Prayer. The Beatitudes., translated by Hilda S. Graef as volume 18 of the Ancient Christian Writers series (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1954).  This post is somewhat inspired by the focus of Dr. Scott Hahn on kinship in the Scriptures; for instance, see his A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God's Covenant Love in Scripture (Cincinnati, OH: Servant Books, 1998).

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