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.” ( Luke 1:67-79)
All of us know the Christmas season as one filled with song and joy. Two days ago, we heard Mary’s song – the Magnificat. Today, we hear Zechariah’s song, known as the Benedictus, because it’s first word is Blessing.
So much happened to Zechariah in his time of suffering. He could have easily lost hope and felt abandoned by God. But he didn’t. He waited on the fidelity of God and, when his time came and his tongue loosed, he spoke this beautiful and faith-filled song of praise of praise.
He came to realize that his little child (John the Baptist) was the one who would prepare the immediate way for the Lord. He came to understand this baby’s singular prophetic role in the salvation of the world. He saw his son as the “dawn” which was to announce the rising Sun. His prayer is a sign of assurance that God is and will always be with us.
In the darkness of our human destiny, his song proclaims something that will bring supreme comfort in the face of this ultimate disaster. “Because of the tender mercy of God, the daybreak from on high will…shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow…”
This is where the birth of Jesus comes to life in terms of trying to find enough meaning because he is a God who embraced the level of being human so that He could become one of us and that we will acknowledge such God as one who journeys with His people.
We prepare for the birth of God who created us not to die but to live. This is the good news of Jesus. So good and so true. He will teach and show us how to truly live in preparation for the loving embrace of the eternal Father.
Zacharias and his prayer of blessing evokes a thought that ties it all together. Like Zechariah, the Holy Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in the knowledge of God’s merciful love, protection, and care. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to prepare the way that leads to Christ. Life is a journey and we are either moving towards the Lord or away from the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us each day with his life-giving Word and Spirit.
How humbled I am when I think of that three part message. As we approach the end of Advent, I am reminded of God’s love made manifest in this tender and compassionate child who will grow to liberate all of us from sin. I know that, every day, I must both internalize and act on His destiny by helping others see Christ in my actions. Every day, I am invited by God to move closer to Him.
That scenario, that invitation is extended every day to you and me. Christmas formalizes all of that and beckons us to take another step closer – closer to the invitation of God. The only question is whether will accept that invitation.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you have been gracious and merciful towards your people. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may bear witness to the joy of the Gospel to those around me.”
More beautiful or poignant words have never been spoken to foretell the ultimate event in all of human history–God becoming man and entering the world so as to die for our salvation. Only a God with unfathomable “merciful compassion” would humble himself to the point of taking human flesh and “become obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
But come He did on a cold December night almost 2020 years ago. Though He came as a helpless babe born in a cave, the dawning light he would shine on the world sitting in darkness could not be contained, allowing each of us the chance to become partaker’s in God’s divine nature. “God became a man so that following a man–something you are able to do–you might reach God, which was formerly impossible to you.” (St. Augustine)