Thursday, December 23, 2021
Readings for Today
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Luke 1:62–64
Our beautiful story continues as we grow closer to our Christmas Day celebration of the Birth of Christ. Today we once again reflect upon the person of Zechariah, the father of Saint John the Baptist. We recall how God blessed him and Elizabeth with this miraculous pregnancy at an old age after being barren. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple to reveal this glorious event, but Zechariah received it with disbelief. The result was that he was struck mute until this, the day of his birth.
Today’s Gospel reveals how Zechariah untied the knot of his disbelief. He did so by following the command of the angel to name the child “John.” Traditionally, their first born would be named Zechariah after his father. But God had picked the name “John” and, therefore, both Zechariah and Elizabeth are given the opportunity to embrace and manifest their faith by accepting the name given to their child by God.
In a sense, we can say that Zechariah “righted his wrong.” He righted it by making the choice of faith and acting on it. This is a great witness for all of us because all of us have failed in faith in one way or another. In the case of Zechariah, God punished him severely, stripping away his ability to speak. But what we see today is that this “stripping” of Zechariah’s speech was not done primarily as a punishment, but so that God could manifest His glory through Zechariah’s manifestation of his faith. People are “amazed” at Zechariah as he fulfills this act of faith and names his newborn child “John.” Thus his suffering is now a manifestation of the glory of God!
In all of our lives, we can regularly point to failures of faith. Sometimes, God sees fit to impose a severe “punishment” upon us as a result. We may endure some suffering or hardship for our failure to heed His voice wholeheartedly. But know that any “punishment” from God is not primarily a result of his wrath. Rather, most often the consequences of any lack of faith is permitted by God because He has something greater in mind. In this case, it was so that He could loose the tongue of Zechariah at the proper moment so that he could glorify God with great faith. In our lives, we should look for Him to do the same.
Reflect, today, upon any hardship you have endured as a result of your own weakness, sin or lack of faith. Do not see any hardship as a punishment in the normal sense of that word. Rather, see it as an opportunity through which God is calling you to give Him even greater glory.
Lord, I know I lack faith in my life. I fail to believe all that You speak to me. As a result, I often fail to put Your words into action. Dear Lord, when I suffer as a result of my weakness, help me to know that this and all suffering can result in giving glory to You if I renew my faith. Help me, like Zechariah, to return to You always, and use me as an instrument of Your manifest glory. Jesus, I trust in You.
O Antiphons of Advent
Saint of the Day – Saint John of Kanty, Priest