How far back can you trace your lineage? Most of us are curious about our roots. Thanks in part to the availability of online databases, people are now researching their genealogy in unprecedented numbers.
We want to know who are biological forebears are. As Catholics, we want to know our spiritual forebears too. So many of them are so familiar—my own patron saint, for example, St. Nicholas of Myra, aka Santa Claus. Anthony of Padua, the Franciscan saint who gives his name to the media enterprise that sponsors this blog, is arguably among the most remembered men in the history of the West.
When tracing our roots back in time, we tend to stop at Jesus. Many Christians stop there and stay put. Catholics pause, to genuflect, as it were, as during the Nicene Creed at Mass when we confess that Jesus was made incarnate. But then we resume and proceed further down the timeline, pausing again to pay special honor to Mary, of course, and to a lesser degree to St. Joseph, and then to St. Elizabeth and Sts. Anne and Joachim—that is, to Jesus’ relatives going back at least a couple of generations.
You’d think we would observe another significant pause when we arrive at King David, but we don’t, though we might. I think we should. Unless we recognize Jesus as the Messiah who is the son of David, we don’t fully know what we mean when we confess that Jesus is the Christ, Christ being the Greek translation of the Hebrew term Messiah.
Jesus is Jewish, of course. When Moses and Elijah join him during his transfiguration on the mount, can there be any more vivid demonstration of the truth that the communion of saints includes the prophets and patriarchs told about in Hebrew Scripture?
When was the last time you prayed to King David? He’s a powerful intercessor. The Catholic Church recognizes him as a saint. His day is December 29.
By my count, more than a dozen saints from the Hebrew Bible grace the Roman Martyrology. Below is a partial list. Catholics tend to neglect them, but we depend on them for the foundations of our faith nonetheless. They’re there to intercede for us. Ask them.
Joshua and Gideon
Photo: © Renáta Sedmáková \ photoXpress