19th December - Advent le 19 décembre - l’Avent

“The angel said to him, ’Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard : your wife Elizabeth is to bear a son and you shall name him John.”
Tuesday 17 March 2015 — Latest update Friday 20 November 2015

Jg.13,2-7.24-25a Ps.70 Lk.1,5-25

19th December – Advent “In the days of King Herod, there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were upright in the sight of God and impeccably carried out all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless : Elizabeth was barren and they were booth advanced in age.”

We are preparing Christmas with a people, a big family, who is walking on the road with life’s unforeseen circumstances and disappointments. Today with Zechariah, we tell God of our supplications and those of our world, for we can situate on a historical level the coming of Jesus who saves his people. This event is prepared in the Temple of Jerusalem, it will awaken the heart of Zechariah! If from the outside Zechariah seemed irreproachable, he had in fact lost hope that God would answer his prayers : that he could have a child! Well aware of his state of old-age, he ’knows’ that it is over and that he wouldn’t be able to have a child. Deep down in his heart, he is disappointed. This disappointment is going to be an obstacle for the work of God. God had placed in Zechariah’s heart a deep desire but he took it on a human level. He was far from having a total confidence in God, he hadn’t believed in what the angel said when he announced God’s mystery that saves us and how it would come about. He will have to keep silent and yet the God of tenderness will bring about his work of Love in Truth. God, by His Word, reveals the depth of man’s heart.

“The angel said to him ’Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has ben heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear a son and you shall name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice in his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord ; he must drink no wine, no strong drink, even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring many of the Israelites to the Lord their God.” With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him."

We, too ,are often tired with having to wait! How surprised was Zechariah to hear such a response that suppressed the shame of his life : in their old age, with Elizabeth, they would have a child. We too, must know how to recognise and say what the Lord has already done for us-consolations, forgiveness, support, indeed know how to say how he has already responded to our supplications. Do we have this confidence in the Lord? Or do we doubt like Zechariah? And can the world hear such a response?

The Church prays : ’Help us Lord to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation with perfect faith.“The Word manifests to us how we ought to prepare ourselves to receive the mystery of the Incarnation with a faultless faith and in obedience of the heart.”

“When Zechariah came out, he could not speak to them, and they realised he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.But he could only make signs to them and remained dumb. When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she kept to herself, saying, ’ The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered in public.”

God’s response is a marvellous gift ; God sees far and wide : through a child, a life. He has us already know Jesus’ signs : joy, reconciliation, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the hope that God saves. We are invited to open wide our hearts, our eyes, our hands : God is coming.

Let us keep the secret of God in our hearts, and let us preserve spaces of silence amidst all that we are preparing throughout this week so as to be able to welcome what comes unexpectedly from God. As soon as we find Him, we want , like Mary, to go and accomplish it hastily with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength.

Zechariah falls silent, he listens to Elizabeth who faces the challenge of a sterile people. She already announces Mary who will consent to the work of God with her whole being. The gift of God is a secret of Love that we need to discover from within.

We ask fro the grace to meditate upon the Word of God and to obtain obedience of heart.