Advent 2017

Fourth Sunday in Advent - December 24th

2 Sm 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 / Ps 89: 2-5, 27, 29 / Rm 16: 25-27 / Lk 1: 26-38

Christmas is a time to sing.

Today we have read the third song, or canticle, in the opening chapters of Luke: the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis, and this song, the Benedictus, the song of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, which begins ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel’.

In the early Church the relation between God the Father and God the Son was often described as the Father eternally begetting the Son from his innermost being; it was an overflowing of God’s love which eternally brought forth his only Son. Sometimes, reflecting on this mystery, early Christian theologians explained it in terms of song: when we sing, words overflow from our heart and are brought forth as hymns of praise. Singing is our way of giving back to God what he has given us: our overflowing praise and love is a response to his outward and inward gifts of love.

The Benedictus is a song that praises the great works of God in the past, by which he has visited and redeemed his chosen people, kept his promises to them, and given them grounds to hope for future deliverance. It is one that springs from the heart of a Father, Zachariah, delighting in the birth of his beloved Son, John – one who is destined to be the forerunner of the promised Deliverer, Jesus.

Tomorrow the Deliverer will come to us – God’s eternal begetting of his Son will become a very human event, when a baby is born in a stable in Nazareth. Our response to this outflowing of God’s love should be to sing, like Zachariah: a song of praise, thanksgiving, and humble gratitude for God’s gift of his Son, the Deliverer, to us. We must join the angels and give God’s gifts back to Him in song.

Carol Harrison
Augustinian Institute, Thomas Martin Fellow - 2014