17 December 2007 Misa de Gallo
Gen 49, 2-10; Psalm 72; Matthew 1, 1-7 The Importance of Lineage
Makatotohanan at ma-laman ang sinabi ni Rizal: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa paroroonan.” Today, we will focus on our roots; we will look back at our ancestors and see why it is important to re-connect with the past. I believe this is the very reason why centennials are celebrated and why we have to keep remembering; why we have to continually enrich our memory and appreciate our history.
Our ancestral lineage constitutes our identity. If you want to know who you are, trace your genealogy. The power of our ancestors have been acknowledged by tradition. The Chinese have worshipped their ancestors. The native Americans often begin their rituals by ‘calling them in.’ We, Christians, celebrate the saints as part of our spiritual lineage. If a foreigner ask you to describe who we are, you can enumerate our Philippine heroes and multi-awarded personages as samplers of the greatness of Filipinos. If you are from UP, you will cheer behind the names of Claro M. Recto, the National Artists who created this Church (Manansala, Abueva, Locsin, Luz), our multi-awarded professors and perhaps our comedians who will do a show for the centennial.
There is more to lineage. If we look closely at the ancestors of Jesus, you will notice that they are not exactly the people to be proud of. Jacob was a liar, he decieved his honest brother Esau. Jesus came from the lineage of Judah who sold his brother Joseph to Egypt. His wife Tamar was a shrine-prostitute. Rahab was also a former prostitute. And Ruth was a foreigner. Jesus also came from David who murdered Urriah and committed adultery by taking Bathsheba as his wife. And many of Jesus’ ancestors are insignificant — they are not exactly people we remember in history.
We too have ancestors whom we are not proud of. Mga ninuno at kamag-anak na ikinahihiya natin. Kapamilyang mas mabuting hindi binabanggit o iniiwasan sa kuwentuhan. Kahit sa ating personal na buhay, may nakaraan tayong pinandidirihan at pilit na kinakalimutan. Ngunit hindi maaaring takasan ang ating nakaraan. What we are today is because of the past: not just genetically. Without Jacob, Jesus will not have Judah. Without Tamar, there would be no Perez. Without Rahab, there would be no Obed, the grandfather of David. Without Bathsheba, there would no Solomon. Without all of these, there would be ancestral line for Jesus. The Catholic Church too share this type of lineage: there are bad popes, scandalous affairs, and dark movements like the Inquisition. But history tells us that God is not determined by the evil that we do. He can use the most sinful and insignificant people for His good purpose.
So today, we look back at our gifted and sinful ancestors. We revisit our roots. And be assured that whether we have a dark history, we are not determined by our past. Jose Rizal taught us that what moves us to the future is our memory. There can arise heroes from a shameful lineage. As we celebrate our centennial, go and research on the people whose contribution shaped who we are today; and at the same time, find the people whom we are not proud of, and perhaps, this is the time to chart a new course.