01,18 This is how Jesus Christ came to be born.
His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together
she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
01,19 Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace,
decided to divorce her informally.
01,20 Joseph had made up his mind to do this
when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.
01,21 She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus,
because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’
01,22 Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
01,23  “Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son
whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.”
01,24 When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do:
he took his wife to his home.

The first line of Matthew’s Gospel says, literally translated from the Greek text, ‘Book of Genesis of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham.’

The Old Testament opens with the Book of Genesis. So Matthew uses the same word ‘Genesis’ to speak about Jesus. Apparently he has in his mind to re-write the Bible from the perspective of Jesus. Then he enumerates how the ‘genesises’ of Jesus’ ancestors took place. He uses a play on words. Literally translated from the Greek he writes, ‘Abraham generated  Isaac; Isaac generated Jacob; Jacob generated Yuda and his brothers...’ and so on: 39 times till Joseph! The repeated verb ‘to generate’ is a reminiscence of the noun ‘genesis’ in the first line. But at the fortieth time he writes (01,16), ‘... Joseph the husband of Mary from whom was generated Jesus, called Christ.’ Why does he change his formulation? He gives an answer in 01,18: ‘The Genesis of Jesus Christ was thus...’ There follows the text we cited above. Jesus’ genesis is totally different from the ‘genesis’ of the ancestors.

The citation of Isaiah is to be found 07,14. 

Picture Meditation

The birth of Jesus is pictured over the diagonal from top right to bottom left. Mary, in a normal bed, is handing over the baby to Joseph, pictured as an old man.

In case I am a father or mother: does it recall the birth of our children? Were they children of God as well?

According to very old legends there were two midwives present at Jesus’ birth. The artist pictures one of them. I imagine myself in her place. What would it mean to me to be there? What should I do?

Or do I rather identify myself with one of the people who are peeping over the edge of the bed?

In the top corner left: the angel is saying to Joseph that Mary conceived from the Holy Spirit and that he has to take her to his home. (What is the meaning of that little unhappy woman in purple?).

In the corner bottom right: Joseph does what he was ordered to do: he receives the pregnant Mary. What is the meaning of their gestures? And what is the meaning of all the people around them? Could I be one of them? And if so, with what feelings?

Through the window we can see the star of Bethlehem which will attract the magi (Matthew 02,01-12).

At the end I can have a talk with one of the bystanders; with the midwife; with Joseph; with Mary; with the little child Jesus.
- Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J