23 Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work.

He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, 24son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph…. son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

It seems a little overdone. So many strange, unfamiliar characters, so many unknown stories captured in this list of 76 names, if you don’t count God at the end. Some of the figures here are well known “heroes of the faith,” others are obscure, and some complete strangers.

But, whether mythical characters or people known from history, they all share one thing in common. Their lives unfolded in a crazy zig zag of confusion, at times chaos, frequently groping in the fog to find the best way forward. These names, in short, all point to genuine complicated messy stories.

The Gospel is a human story. I need to recognize early in my journey with Luke that there is room for me in this story. It is a story about my life, just as it is a story about every human being.

No parts of the human experience are missing. We will encounter anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, betrayal, resentment, hatred, violence, beauty, love, truth, and generous self-sacrifice. It is all here. It all has a place in our story. Nothing is excluded.

There are parts of my story I wish I could erase. There are moments of shame, dishonesty, failure, and violence I would sooner not see. The Gospel invites me to see beneath the surface and recognize that there is more to me than the sad things I have done, or the sad things that have happened in my life.

The most important part of this long tedious passage comes t the beginning when Luke tells us that Jesus “was the son (as was thought) of Joseph.”

It is the “as was thought” part that always gets me into trouble. I think I know what is going on and how the story should unfold; but I am fixated on surfaces. Surfaces seldom reveal the truth.

The Gospel invites me to see beneath the surface, to penetrate the depths. Here, no matter how troubled my story may be on the surface, I discover true meaning and real strength and peace in the hidden realm of Divine Presence.