Third Thursday in Advent - December 19th
Today’s readings are about the births of two important figures, Samson and John the Baptist. Their births have much in common. They are the answer to the prayers of two barren couples as well as a reminder to the chosen people of God’s plan for them.
In the first reading, the birth of Samson is announced to a woman by an angel of the Lord. The angel predicts that Samson is to be consecrated to God and that he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines. As we are aware, Samson suffers a downfall at the hands of Delilah. Samson loses his strength and this loss eventually leads him to a closer relationship to God. God answers Samson’s prayer; his strength is reinstated, and he conquers more Philistines in his last act than in all his battles.
In our gospel reading, the birth of John the Baptist is announced to Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, by Gabriel an angel of the Lord. Gabriel tells Zechariah that John will be great in the sight of the Lord and that he will prepare a people fit for the Lord. God has answered the prayer of the nation in sending them the forerunner to Jesus and has answered the prayer of a barren couple by sending them a child for whom they have prayed a very long time.
The births of Samson and John the Baptist prepare us for the announcement of the birth of Jesus to Mary. They also remind us that God has a plan for each one of us and that it is important to discover God’s plan for us. Advent is a time to concentrate on our prayer life; a time to be aware of what God has in store for us. Instead of asking for specific answers to our prayers, we should be open to God’s will, not ours. We, like the barren couples, may be surprised by God’s answers to our prayers.