Blessed Is the Lord
Zechariah as we all know was struck dumb by the Angel when he hesitated to believe the message given to him in the sanctuary that he and Elizabeth would have a child in their old age. He was silent throughout the long months of pregnancy. Indeed, he would not speak again until he and Elizabeth brought their new son to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. When they asked what the child’s name would be Zechariah first wrote the name ʺJohnʺ on a tablet. Immediately, his mouth was opened, his tongue freed and, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke this blessing:
ʺBlessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for 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 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 from the hand 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 their sins. In the tender compassion of our God that 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 1:68-78)
Zechariah’s prophecy here is, of course, about Jesus, the Savior that was promised to Abraham. This child that would be named John, would be the ʺprophet of the Most Highʺ who would go before Jesus, preparing his way. During this season that we call Christmas we are asked to recall to our minds, to meditate upon the great mystery of God’s love for us manifested in the infant Jesus who is that ʺdawn breaking upon us from on high, that has driven away the darkness of sin and death.ʺ If we follow his guidance, if we believe in him with our whole hearts, our whole minds, our whole souls and practice his ways, we will come to know the peace that only he can give. We will know that peace in this life, even if this life is full of suffering, and we will know it forever with him in his Kingdom.
Christmas is the first chapter in the story of the incarnation of God’s love among us. We are invited now to follow the rest of this awesome story as it unfolds and reaches its climax in Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter time. We can, along with the angels, sing a joyous, ʺGlory be to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.ʺ (Luke 2:14) For we know that in the birth of this Innocent One, our salvation has been made manifest.