The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Anthony Ynzon SVD — Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City
December 17 / Octave before Christmas
Photo: Nativity Scene (2018) in St Michael the Archangel Parish, Irosin, Sorsogon
As children, we were fascinated with the famous story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” The story goes that Ali Baba accidentally witnessed a group of thieves as they opened their magical cave to stash their loot. The cave can only be opened by saying the magic word, “Open Sesame” and closed by the opposite command, “Close Sesame.” Ali Baba sneaked in to take a bag of gold.
But his theft was later discovered as his greedy relatives wanted to have more of the treasures. The thieves laid out plans to kill Ali Baba to prevent further spread of their secret password and treasures, but thanks to the clever plans of Morgiana, his faithful servant. Ali Baba escaped harm and eventually took possession of all the treasures.
Elements of the fairy tale reverberate with our Gospel passage for today as we hear about the names grouped into 14’s. Although we do not categorically regard this to be a list of thieves, they were surely imperfect personalities with their own stories of ups and downs in life.
And just like the aforementioned Arabian fairy tale, our genealogy story still leads to a great treasure stashed in a nondescript cave/manger. Much like the “open sesame” password that magically rolls the boulders away at the opening of Ali Baba’s cave, the affirmative response of Mary and Joseph to the angels’ announcement gloriously opened the gates of the heavens allowing all the angels to sing in exultation at the Saviour’s birth.
What is beautiful about this passage is that it is not a fairy tale. Rather, it is a faith story that strengthens our hope and provides us with strength to carry on with our lives with joy and peace, for in our genealogy story, the treasure at the end is not for one Ali Baba to keep. Jesus is rather the Father’s fulfilled promise, a treasure for all humanity to receive.