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Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent
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, blessed are we on this most holy day! Just as Zechariah’s tongue was loosed to sing your praises and to declare the good news of prophecies fulfilled, may we, too, always and everywhere do the same!
- Blessed: These words of Zechariah are prayed each morning as the Benedictus by those who say the Liturgy of the Hours. They can become too familiar, rote, like something we say in our sleep, but what a miracle they are! How comforting that our great God used doubtful Zechariah to declare his praises and prophesy freedom for all. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of doubt that often results in sin and shame (ask Eve). Zechariah is the perfect picture of this release from bondage, a “reversal of fortune,” so to speak, from tongue-tied to pouring forth profuse blessings and prophesy, all by God’s grace. Zechariah shows us that God in his tender compassion does things in and through us that are far beyond our own capabilities, both physically and spiritually. May we, like Zechariah, “be released,” freely allowing God to use us beyond our own limitations to declare his praises so that they will echo throughout the generations to come.
- The Past Is Prologue: “Remember the rock from which you were hewn!” my mother would quote to me on days when I was down and my faith seemed weak. Zachariah spoke to his listeners about what God had done for his people. We too can “remember” the Lord’s gifts, healings, and special graces in our past, and ask him to spark into flame our own hope for the future. We can, in fact, by recounting the goodness of God, “preach ourselves happy!” The eve of Jesus’s birthday is the perfect time to remember all that God has done for us, recall how far he has brought us, and remind ourselves that he is faithful to his Word. On him we can confidently rely.
- Holiness Is Possible: God, by his mercy and grace, has made it possible for each of us to be holy. He actually promised it to us. This is the good news that we are to proclaim. May we follow the example of John and take to heart the words Zachariah spoke about him: “Go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” When we share this good news, “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.”
Conversing with Christ: O Jesus, Come! Fill my heart with all of you! Open my mouth to declare your praise. Stir to mind remembrances of all the good things you have done for me, and help me to boldly declare forgiveness, salvation, and freedom in you. Amen.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will remember all that your hand of mercy has done for me and speak your praises to others in my life.
For Further Reflection: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, page 108, footnotes on Luke 1:67-79.
Melissa Overmyer is a convert to Catholicism; founder of the Georgetown Women’s Bible Study and Something Greater Ministries; and author of Born to Soar, Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life, a weekly blog at www.somethinggreater.net, and daily posts on IGTV (melissaovermyer). She is working on her master’s degree in Theology at Augustine Institute.