Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Genealogies, Fatherhood and Authority

Many readers of the Old Testament get irritated with the sections that rattle off long genealogies. Why were they so important to Israel and so insignificant to us today?

I would submit that the genealogy is a concrete symbol of authority. By tracing fathers back in time, we trace their teaching. Following in the footsteps of our father, we not only follow him personally, but we show faith to a whole way of life, its customs and structures. To disregard our fathers is to invite chaos, disrespect and forgetfulness of the right way to live.

In the Church, the obedience that we show to our pastors and bishops is again not so much to them as persons, but represents submission to the whole lineage that comes with Apostolic succession. This fact was impressed upon me especially at my diaconal ordination. The bishop was insistent that I had a duty to teach what I had handed on to me from the Apostles through my immediate fathers, my ordaining bishops and their ordaining bishops, back to Peter and the Twelve.

In our post-Freudian world where we expect that young men harbor a desire to do away with their fathers, is it any wonder that genealogies are a bore?

As always, I offer all the readers my prayers, and I invite you to visit our website. Peace to you in Jesus Christ!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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