“The whole round Earth is thirsting for your birthday Lord. In that one happy day are contained all the ages to come.” ~ Saint Ephrem of Syria
In today’s Gospel (Luke 1:67-79) we revisit the “Canticle of Zechariah,” the joyful and magnificent prayer that our protagonist would author upon the birth of his son, John the Baptist. Contained within this seminal prayer is the summation of our salvation history, essentially defining Jesus and John’s role in this divine story of the ages. Of his newborn son he would go on to say:
“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."
Just six days ago, we read of the Angel Gabriel’s encounter with Zechariah (Luke 1:5-25), one which left Zechariah mute due to his lack of faith, a metaphor perhaps - harbinger really - of the fate that awaits the faithless in God’s Eternal Heavenly Kingdom. For in the paradise that awaits, one in which we will praise and glorify God unceasingly (Revelation 19:1-9) the faithless will have no voice, no cause or reason to speak.
But in today’s Canticle, we are told right from the outset that Zechariah was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” thus insuring that his prophecy would be rooted in wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God’s divine plan. Amidst the never-ending barrage of the secular trappings of Christmas, these are the greatest gifts of a well-observed Advent Season
We too take on the role of John the Baptist in our day-to-day lives. We strive to emulate Mary by way of her selfless Visitation as discussed yesterday https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Immersing-Ourselves-in-the-Theo-drama. The lives of the Saints provide us with countless examples of ardent witness to the word as well. Called to bring the light of Christ into the world, they heard the call and now reign as members of the Celestial Court, tirelessly interceding for those who aspire to walk in their footsteps.
By bringing the message of Jesus into the lives of others, we are in essence preparing the way for his second coming. And through this coveted gift of wisdom, given freely to all those who seek it (Matthew 7:7) we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is guiding us, in the same way it guided Zechariah, much like it guided Saint Stephen, the man whose Feast Day we will remember the day after Christmas as the protomartyr of Christianity.
Joy, compassion, forgiveness, peace. Zechariah’s sentiments have never been more critical, and his words, his canticle, is his gift to us on Christmas Eve. Make it a part of your spiritual DNA so that you too can be that shining light to others in dire need of the good news, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord” ~ Psalm 89
Schippers James on December 24, 2018:
A wonderful reminder to forgive, as He did!