I remember that as a child, when the pastor of my parish read this Gospel passage, we little boys in church would smile: it seemed funny to us, this long "litany" of names, most of them incomprehensible and even a little ridiculous.
As time went by, I realised that this "litany" is nothing more than a clear picture of humanity, scattered through time and space, made up of different men and women, and not so distant from us: kings and common people; self-important men fascinated by power and humble people; the just and the unjust; saints and sinners; inwardly complicated people and pure at heart.
In their diversity, however, there is one aspect that unites them all: they all generate! And we know that generating is not a trivial act. "Generating" is God's way of existing and is the first call that man received, so that each one, with his own care and work, could continue God's own work, creation: "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:28).
The man who generates is therefore the man who expresses his incurable desire for fulfilment, regardless of how he is, of what he can do, of what he has been able to do. A desire that God, on the other hand, will not be disappointed: Jesus is there, at the bottom, or rather, at the top of the stories of each and every one, just to remind us that all our efforts in generating the image of God in us will not be lost. If nothing else, it will be he who, from his chosen position between man and God, will add to and complete the journey that every human being will not have been able to make.
But there is also a second aspect, which time has given me to understand. It is a real oddity, which often contradicts a certain way of doing things in the Church, whereby those who make mistakes are often relegated to the oblivion of silence. In the long list of Jesus' ancestors, in fact, there are also people who are morally and legally questionable, which Scripture - I would say incomprehensibly - does nothing to hide. It seems that God has no secret archives in which to confine the ugliness and wrongdoings of humanity. He leaves them there, in front of everyone's eyes and above all in front of his own eyes, so as not to forget that looking primarily at man through the glasses of the law, of good and evil, of beautiful or ugly, of efficiency, is in the end a great temptation. In truth, every man has the right, first and foremost, to be looked at, not with "spectacles", but with the "eyes" of being there, of being a son and therefore of being lovable, because a son, be that as it may, is always made to be loved. God keeps us all in plain sight, because we all need to be loved, in peace with those who think that in life we must or can only give: in life there are no phenomena! Man - Benedict XVI reminds us - cannot only give, he must also receive (Deus caritas est 7)!
In this regard, I like to remember what a young contemporary Italian singer-songwriter wrote in one of his poems about how man is made: "Have you ever made love with your eyes? I have, I've read into them, and I've seen all the fears inside a balloon, which were about to burst, but my hand, clutched to the string, that day, let them go' (Matteo Faustini, Nel bene e nel male). In the beauty that every man is, there are also many balloons full of his own fears, uncertainties, resistance, complexity, all held in his hands and perhaps ready to burst. Balloons that are there, often at the mercy of events, difficult to control, and yet always waiting for timid gestures of fatherly and brotherly love to give their "jailers" the blessed strength to finally open their hands and be taken far away.
Fra. Piero Vivoli Ofm Cap. General Bursar, General Curia