"In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. We read today the genealogy of Jesus from St. Matthews gospel. It is different than St. Lukes genealogy. There are many reasons for this which we do not have time to talk about this morning, but I would rather spend time on the point of the gospel, and that is that God became man to save everyone and everything. As Thomas Merton says, and I quote,
'As a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a little burning knot of heat that can set fire to a dry leaf or a piece of paper, so the mystery of Christ in the Gospel concentrates the rays of God's light and fire to a point to set fire to the human spirit. Through the glass of his incarnation, he concentrates the rays of his divine truth and love upon us so that we can feel the burn and all mystical experience is communicated to us through the man Jesus Christ.' (Thomas Merton)
And what are these 'suns rays'? It seems clear to me that the rays of the sun are all the fragments of myths and wisdom and beauty that can be found throughout the entire world in science and music and poetry and religion. All these rays of the Sons light everywhere throughout the world. All truth comes from God. All good things come from God. All light comes from God, the Father of light.
Thus the three wise men who were Zoroastrians from Persia were led by the stars that they worshipped to the manger to worship the One who created the stars. God did not hold their paganism against them, he used it to enlighten them. They were men of good will, seekers after God, lovers of truth, and God blessed them with visions and dreams, a star, and the Christ child. Then they disappeared from view only to be heard of again in pious legend; but the Christ clarified their vision. What happened to them after that, we simply don't know. But I am most willing to assume that God continued to be with them as he was before they went to Bethlehem.
What has been made by God is sacred. And what has not been made by God? Nothing. That we cannot see this sacredness in all things, that we cannot recognize it does not mean that it is not true. It means there's a problem with our sight. All things are his and all things are united in him.
Paul said it like this: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus. And he did not just mean Christians. There were no Christians at the incarnation. He meant all people. All boundaries have been destroyed in Christ. In him all things in heaven and on earth are united. Nothing and no one is left out, from the smallest to the largest. Every atom is revealed to be filled with grace. In the immense universe there are millions of galaxies, trillions of stars and planets, and God’s light shines through them all by the focused energy we find in his incarnate Son. We must understand that this light we see focused in Christ in a manger in a little town of Bethlehem did not begin to shine then and there. It was always shining. Nor was it limited to that time and place, as the writers of Hebrews makes clear, the universe is held together by the Word of his power.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus says that God contains in himself all beings. Not just after the incarnation, but before it, and after it as well. So the incarnation does not create unity that did not exist before Christmas, just as Jesus did not bring into creation the kingdom, rather God in Christ reveals the unity and the kingdom that has always been and will always be. And it includes everything and everyone.
Gazing at Christ we see this truth made manifest in human flesh so that we so limited by our senses can now see and touch and hear and smell and taste him. The senses reveal the gateways through which we encounter God, because God has become flesh, which is why Orthodox worship aims to stimulate every one of the senses. The body is good, the senses are good, nothing that is human is evil, nothing that has been created is bad. Either that, or God did not become a real, live human being. We must never disparage what God has made, but rather give thanks for it and care for it and bless it.
In order to remove from us any shred of doubt that God is with us, always has been, and always will be, he destroys the myth of separateness by becoming one of us. The incarnation was, as it must be, an act of love, for God is love. He did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but save it, all of it.
This is one of the overarching meanings of the genealogy of Christ. Each name represents a person with innumerable relationships. Each person represents a unique personality with a unique life, with unique and infinite connections, and unique characteristics, like a plant with roots that spread throughout all the universes. And we find ourselves in this genealogy, for we are all connected to one another. We are all related to one another. The flesh of Judah and Tamar and Perez and Ruth and David and Solomon is my flesh and your flesh and His flesh. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
- Father Antony Hughes, The Genealogy of Jesus, St. Mary Orthodox Church