Today’s readings have quite a few parallels and it’s easy to see why they are placed together in Advent. First there is an appearance of an angel to a soon-to-be father or mother, followed by a moment of fear, then the deliverance of a message from God by an angel and an objection to the message or a request for a sign. Finally there is the giving of a sign or some sort of reassurance. The child Samson would begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines and John would begin to prepare Israel for the coming of a Savior.
The Gospel reading shows Zechariah, an obviously pious man but also very human. He and his wife were righteous people, yet despite their prayers, God has sent them a heavy burden in that they were childless. Although the angel announces who he is and that he is bringing God’s message, Zechariah has some doubts. He doesn’t accept this information without weighing the fact that he and his wife are old and it’s long past the time for them to have children. Instead of looking to God in faith, he looks at himself and his wife and decides that the birth of a son is impossible. He thinks his physical limitations will hinder God. Zechariah, righteous as he is, needs to trust that God will fulfill his promises. Zechariah becomes temporarily mute and Gabriel explains that the reason for this is that Zechariah did not believe his words.
But before we criticize Zechariah too much, we might consider the strength of our own faith. God’s dramatic action in today’s readings should give us comfort and confidence in the midst of our struggles. We can bring our needs and concerns to him in prayer, confident that he will act in love for our good just as he has promised.
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Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus – an arrival or a coming. In the context of the season, Advent means that the Lord is coming. Read more of the Advent introduction...
First Week of Advent
Second Week of Advent
Third Week of Advent
Fourth Week of Advent