Fourth Week of Advent
Gospel: Lk 1: 67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
RISING SUN FROM ON HIGH: Today is the last day of Advent. We have passed through 24 days of preparation. The song of Zachariah presents his experience of God in the past, the present and the future. The song is sung in the context of his baby son John. Zachariah says that God had been faithful to his promise to Abraham and to all other people who succeeded him. So, He is a reliable God. Zachariah sees his infant son, lying in front of him, as a prophet to go before Jesus to prepare the way. He foretells of the future that Jesus would come as a rising sun to remove all forms of darkness. Let us reflect on the way God has fulfilled His promises in our lives as we prepare to receive Jesus Christ during this Christmas.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, come and expel our darkness and lead us to light.
SURRENDERING TO HIS RHYTHM: God who looks favorably on his people is the familiar line and thought in Mary’s Magnificat and in Zacharias’ song. It does not describe a God who acts justly, but a God who oversteps the boundaries of justice and is an epitome of Mercy. You approve of God’s personal engagement with you like the psalmist. “Then I pray to you O Lord. I say, you are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in Life” (Ps 142: 5). A great relation is zealously cultivated between God and his beloved. “I will punish him, chastise him” (2 Sam 7: 14). “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me” (2 Sam 7: 16). Today people think of madness in two ways. You fall below normal or you go above normal. If you fall below normal you are ill, may need psychiatric assistance to get you back. But if you go beyond normal, you are really becoming healthy and filled with wholeness. You surpass the limits of normal and the defined, to meet God. May we rise above the normal to strike a lasting relationship with Him who holds us in life.
HE HAS VISITED AND REDEEMED US: During the different hours of the Prayer of the Church (Breviary), we consistently use three prayers from the Gospel of Luke. The canticle of Zechariah – the Benedictus – is used in the morning prayer (lauds), the song of Mary – Magnificat – is used during the evening prayer (vespers), and the prayer of Simeon the prophet – Nunc Dimittis – is used during night prayer (compline). It is customary that when these prayers are recited or sung, the faithful make the sign of the cross. During the canticle of Zechariah, if the sign of the cross is made during the second line of the prayer it is so powerful. Imagine the vertical movement of the hand from head to your heart during the words, “For he has visited his people…;” and the horizontal movement of the hand from one shoulder to another during the words, “… and redeemed them.” This is the mystery of the incarnation that we are going to celebrate tonight. Let the Christmas invite us to contemplate the mystery of how the Lord has visited his people and redeemed them.