Friday of the Third Week of Advent
This Week’s Intention: For a renewed spirit of care and vigilance for the sanctity of life and the dignity of all persons.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stands before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”
A Reflection for the Third Friday of Advent
When reading the Gospel, one might notice that much of the Nativity story is filled with perplexed persons. What is happening to them and what they are witnessing defies their understanding. This is not just because it shatters the laws of nature. Even more significantly for them, it is because it upsets the very carefully-ordered social hierarchy of their own worth. Consider the birth of Jesus. It took the unlikeliest of social paths. It wound far from those who were ordained and entitled to be at the center of history, and instead went to those on its fringes, people accustomed to their place as anawim: the hopelessly useless. This would capsize the worlds of both groups, much as it does today. Society still reveres meritocracy, with its economy of status and power. It still is more comfortable with the idea of reward than with that of gift, ascribing more value to that which was earned than to that which was given. However, the message of Christmas is that there is nothing that is not given. How we come into this world is who and what we really are, and it is all grace from there. And so, each year we give gifts to symbolize the source of all good surprising us with goodness that we did nothing to deserve short of being here and being ourselves. It is a chance to practice on one day a simple act that should, in fact, be the animating spirit of how we live all of our days – gratefulness. Somehow, that Christmas message has been, in many ways, forgotten. The time of Advent is a time to remember.
Prayer for the Day
Eternal Father, the Scriptures often speak of times when you sent angels as your messengers, bringing to your people your words of blessing, of warning, and of wisdom. In our own lives, we know your angels as persons and experiences in which we feel the power and the comfort of your presence. Open our hearts to these, your messengers, and make of us your messengers to others, especially to those who are most in need of your good news. May we be for you worthy and willing ambassadors. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts forever.