Gospel Reading: Matthew 1: 1-17
During my elementary days, one of the projects I remember doing was a family tree. Literally drawing a tree on a cardboard, we were instructed to post 1×1 photos of our loved ones arranged from roots to fruits.
Mine was a rather short tree because I didn’t really have much information on the side of my father’s family because he abandoned us too early in life for him to help me fill up the spots. My family tree consisted more of my mom’s side from my Lolo Meng and Lola Lita. Even then I didn’t have much information about the parents of my lolo and lola except that my great grandfather was once the governor of Quezon and my great grandmother was referred to as a Donya. I did meet my great grandmother in her big house when she was mostly frail and sick sitting on her wheel chair. Other than having gorgeous uncles (cousins of my mom) who are priests, I know little of my family outside of my mom and her 11 siblings.
As I read through Matthew Chapter 1 with its roster of names from Jesus’ genealogy, I noted some familiar ones – names of pioneers, thinkers, spiritual and political leaders like Abraham, Isaac, David and Solomon. Heavy weights just like our Aquinos, Magsaysays, Ayalas, etc. I also saw some names I didn’t recognize among Jesus’ relatives such as Jehoshaphat and Jotham.
Now my reflection is not about pointing out who is the more popular family member or who did more or less in life. It’s simply about:
- The wonder of knowing that we all inherited a piece of family history and our lives are part of the future generations’ herstory;
- That the lives our ancestors lived and the choices they made has affected us in some way and part of knowing who we are is understanding our family and what we inherited from them;
- That our personal choices today may affect the next generation in good or bad ways;
- That every member of the family has a part in writing our family and even national history not just by being the most popular or accomplished member but also by being someone who nurtures other people into being the best they can be.
I can go on and on milking this Gospel for lessons that we can learn but let me limit it to this and make this recommendation: as Christmas is a time for family reunions, it may be a good opportunity to reconnect with your relatives with more than just a simple hi and hello or worst, awkward silences. It might be a good opportunity to learn more about the people who may have or continue to shape you, your parents or even the society at large. Maybe find a lesson or two there that you can use for your life or indulge in a light bulb moment that may help you answer some of your silent “whys’ about people’s behavior or circumstances.
And as you interact with the younger generation, let them get to know you, open up and volunteer your stories so that they may have a good grasp of who they are related to and even get the chance to inspire them or shape the way they think. Tulungan mo sila na maghabi ng mga kwento ng inyong pamilya, ng inyong kasaysayan, sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng sarili mong mga kwento ng tungkol sa noon at sa ngayon.
Finally, I acknowledge that family dynamics is never easy. Too much drama minsan. Our pursuit of going deep into our family history is not to find fault or cast blame but to understand without judgment. Mga tao lang din sila na nagsikap mabuhay sa paraang alam nila at sa konteksto ng personal, economic, political o sosyal na mga limitasyon. And hopefully, that understanding will lead us to make smarter choices, motivate us to be kinder, humble us enough to forgive, discover new ways of dealing with or living with our loved ones and inspire us to continue traditions or pursue a new legacy. After all, as my aunt would always text me, family is family. Sa bandang huli, tayo-tayo rin ang magdadamayan.
Lord, help us tear down walls in our relationships with our family. Help us be bridges of understanding and help us rediscover our history and learn from our past. Help us weave love, patience and forgiveness in our interactions. Amen.
Written by: Red Macalalad