In our Gospel today (Matthew: 1-16, 18-23), the Church gives us the list of the ancestors of Joseph, the foster-father of the Lord and the story of the Annunciation to Mary. I love looking at those names, reflecting on the people who passed on the faith that eventually was part and parcel of the home in which Jesus was raised. It is also fascinating to look into the history of some of these ancestors, and appreciate the way in which God took flawed human beings and still was able to use them to bring about our salvation.
At the same time it is good for each one of us to reflect on the many generations who helped form us in the faith. If it were possible for each one of us to trace the passing of faith back through the generations, we would eventually get to someone who actually saw and heard the Lord! Now, not all of those people would be related to us by blood, and they certainly would not be perfect. We would find friends, catechists, religious, priests, neighbors, strangers - all sorts of people who helped pass on the faith that we proclaim today.
The implications of this are important for us to consider also. If we want to make sure future generations understand and profess the faith we received, we have an obligation to pass it on as well. This may be through formal teaching (such as serving as a Catechist), or through more informal ways, like parents and grandparents teaching children their prayers. But for every one of us, the most important way we pass on faith is by living it. Let's face it - most people consider "religion" to be a private matter, which is "nobody's business". But that is not possible for those of us who profess to follow Christ. He gave us a faith that must be a part of our daily life - easily seen in our words and actions. And that is how we are able to form others in the faith as well. Our words should reflect the teaching of Jesus, even when we are not talking about "religion". As people watch us and listen to us going about our daily lives, they should see and hear a person of faith. When we strive to do God's will in our lives each day, we are helping to pass on our faith. And we thus become the ancestors of future generations. If they reflect on how the faith was passed on to them by those who went before them, we should be a part of that litany, and, we pray, we will be waiting for them to join us as our ancestors in the faith are now waiting for us to enter the heavenly kingdom.