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Praise, from Father to Son
Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Mass in the Morning
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come before you for this time of prayer to be with you. Tonight, we celebrate your birth. And how I need you to be born into my heart, too. As I open my heart to you in prayer, fill me with greater faith in hope; root my heart in greater hope in you; and let me love you just a bit more this Christmas. Jesus, you come to me; I want to be here for you, too.
- Blessing God: When Zechariah proclaimed that his son would be named John, as the Angel of God declared, his tongue was freed and he spoke blessing God. And what a hymn of praise it was! His words have been taken up by the whole Church and are recited daily by clergy, religious, and many laypeople around the world in the morning hour of the Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds. As we listen to these words on the eve of Christ’s birth, we are reminded that prayers of praise instantly place us in the proper disposition before God: as lowly creatures before our creator and beloved children before our Father. As we call to mind the awesome attributes of God, our hearts are humbled so that we can bow low before the infant in his manger.
- The Savior Is Close: Zechariah proclaimed that God was sending a Savior from the house of David, and with warm words of fatherly love he welcomed his Son, “prophet of the most high.” His prayer, so eloquent and inspired, stirs our hearts into anticipatory fervor. The Savior is near! He will come as an infant king, a helpless newborn, a light in the darkness, and a guide in the way of peace. Let us gather up our busy, scattered hearts, to prepare to live these great mysteries on this Christmas night and tomorrow’s Christmas morn.
- Knowledge of Salvation: The Savior of Zechariah’s prophecy won us forgiveness of our sins by his suffering, death, and resurrection. Just hours from celebrating Jesus’ birth, let’s take a moment to recall the words of the prophet John the Baptist and “repent.” Let’s acknowledge our sinfulness and thank Our Lord and Savior for the awesome demonstration of love by which he has made our salvation possible. The dawn of his compassion breaks forth upon us. He shines on our darkness and leads us to his peace.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, very soon Mary and Joseph will hold you in their arms, you who are the salvation of all the world. You are my Redeemer, and you are Redeemer of all. I praise you for your goodness and mercy, and I beg you, come soon! Come with the grace and healing our world and my own heart so need. Remind me of your love; let me know you more deeply this Christmas, and love you more.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to raise my heart and mind to you amidst the busyness and preparations and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Roman Martyrology in preparation for tomorrow’s solemnity.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.