The Gospel according to Luke (1:15-25)
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 stand 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.”
Reflection: This particular Archangel stands before the incomprehensible beauty and splendor of the Most Holy Trinity and brings forth messages of the greatest importance. Gabriel is God’s most notable messenger. Imagine, what would that have been like? Would you believe it?
Despite all his prayer, and reassurance from the angel, Zechariah is unable to put his trust and faith in God’s way. The consequence was months of isolation, unable to communicate. Despite his stubbornness, God’s favor is seen in the birth of his son but he makes him speechless so he can only listen.
Take a moment to ponder what such a glorious apparition would have been like. In this passage, this glorious Archangel appears to Zechariah as he is fulfilling his priestly duty to burn incense before the Lord within the Holy of Holies. As Zechariah enters the sanctuary while all the people remain outside praying, he suddenly has a vision of the Archangel telling him that his wife Elizabeth will have a child, even though she is advanced in years. But even though Zechariah hears this message from Gabriel, the Archangel who stands before God, he doubts what he is being told.
Would you have believed the Archangel Gabriel if you were Zechariah? Or would you have doubted? Though there may not be a way to know the answer to that question, it’s helpful to ponder the humble truth that you very well may have doubted. It takes true humility to admit that possibility. Like Zechariah, we are all weak and sinful. We lack the perfect faith that our Blessed Mother had. And if you can humbly admit this, then you are in a great position to overcome the weakness of faith you struggle with. Zechariah suffered much for his lack of faith, but that suffering led to a renewal of faith when he named his child John in obedience to the Archangel. Know that God speaks to you each and every day. Admit the ways that you lack perfect faith and allow that act of humble acknowledgment to strengthen you where you need help the most.
Action of the Day: Ask yourself how well you listen to all that God says to you. Do you listen, believe, and obey? Or do you question and doubt God’s voice or message?