5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; 15 for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb.
23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, 25 "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
Just before Christmas we are given wonderful passages of different announce of birth, Samson in the first reading and John Baptist in the gospel. Without entering deep into the interpretation of these text I would like invite you all to profit from these readings a single and distinct message to prepare ourselves for this great event; the Incarnation. In all these readings there are plenty to hope and celebrate. There is a call for deep faith and belief. There an invitation to cooperate in the accomplishment of the will of the Father. There are different people once looked upon as shameful are honoured by the Lord. There is an elevation from an ordinary life, not towards a human glory, but in the cooperation of a divine mission, inscribed in the salvation history.
Now let us look into our own humble history and find by ourselves what is exacted demanded from us. Have we really recognized the gifts that the Lord has given to us? Are we still in a complaining and interrogating mood, rather than being submissive to the will of the Father? Are we like Zachariah who refused to belief by applying simply the human intelligence and connaissance or able to surrender like Mary?
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Born for prophecy - murdered for truth, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)
"I do not know what is the most important thing that we should preach - that he [John the Baptist] was wonderfully born or more wonderfully slain - for he was born as a prophecy and murdered for truth. By his birth he announced the coming of the Savior, and by his death he condemned the incest of Herod (Matthew 14:3-12). This holy and righteous man, who was born in an uncommon way as the result of a promise, merited from God that he should depart this world by an uncommon death - that he should by confessing the Lord lay aside his body, which he had received as a gift from the Lord. Therefore John did everything by the will of God, since he was born and died for the sake of God’s work." (excerpt from SERMON 5.1-.2)