From the Canticle of Zechariah to Easter

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The Lenten season is almost over. Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be upon us shortly. Our journey of prayer and reflection, our efforts to deepen our knowledge of God’s workings in our lives and in history, is about to reach its ultimate conclusion in the events of Holy Week. During that week we will go through a spiritual roller-coaster of emotions from the happy welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the terrors of Good Friday, to the unbelievable joy of Easter Sunday.

Back at Christmas time, which was such a short time ago, we were welcoming the infant Christ into our lives. This child was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies of the ancient prophets. Though he was an infant, we could also see hints of what was to come through him. We saw all of that clearly in the prayer of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father:

ʺBlessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free form the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.ʺ (Luke 1:68-79)

In that prayer we see the promise of freedom that can only come from the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus, the Son of God had finally come after all those hundreds of years of prophecy. And he had come for one reason, to reunite us with the Father once and for all.

We are now entering that part of the liturgical year where the reason for that birth is revealed, and its ultimate purpose is fulfilled. That holy child, the very essence of pure innocence, will be suspended before us as a suffering man on the cross. We will witness, in the reading of the scriptures during our Good Friday services, the Lamb of God bearing all of our sins on his shoulders again. We will spiritually stand accused beneath that cross, but we will see Jesus looking down at us, each of us with unimaginable love. He will look each one of us in the eye and by that look we will know that we are forgiven. But our joy will not be complete until, on Easter Sunday morning, we will remember again his Rising from the tomb. Then we will know with true humility and grace that we are children of this loving God.

When Easter comes we will be able to understand Paul’s message in his letter to the Colossians: ʺBrothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.ʺ (Colossians 3:1-4) Thanks be to God!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.