The Gospel for today looks at Jesus’ family tree. Forty-two generations culminate in the birth of Christ.

Generations of our own families gather in celebration of this birth this time of year.

“I thank God that for having had one more year of my family being together. At Christmas we reconfirm the unity of our family, which is worth much more than any presents that may be exchanged.” 

– Dania, member of the secular Franciscans and Movement of Justice and Peace. A friend of missioner Nora Pfieffer who serves in Bolivia

Jesse Tree by Robert Terrell

While many families gather around a Christmas tree, some use a simple, special decoration during Advent to celebrate the genealogy of Jesus: A Jesse Tree.

The tradition is based on Isaiah11:1- 2, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.” 

Symbols representing Old Testament stories of Jesus’ ancestors or prophecies of his coming are hung on the tree each day of Advent — Noah’s Ark, Jacob’s ladder, Jonah in the Whale, etc. The final symbol is the Star of David which on Christmas Eve is placed on top of the tree.

To learn more about the Jesse Tree and how to make one with your family, visit AmericanCatholic.org.