December 19 – Late Advent Weekday
Judges 13:2-7,24-25 + Luke 1:5-25
December 19, 2019
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.
During the last eight days of Advent, called the “Late Advent weekdays”, the Gospel heard at weekday Masses shifts to the infancy narratives. It might surprise some that not all four Gospel accounts tell us about the infancy of Jesus. Only Matthew and Luke do. In his prologue (John 1:1-18), John one-ups those two evangelists by accounting for the life of God the Son from all eternity in brief and brilliant poetry. Mark begins his Gospel account (the shortest of the four) with Jesus already an adult.
On the first two Late Advent weekdays, the Church proclaims passages from the infancy narratives of Matthew. On the last six days of this “octave”, the Gospel comes from Luke. Key to Luke’s infancy narratives is a parallelism between John the Baptist and Jesus. Their “annunciations” and births are described similarly. Yet even more significant are the differences between the two sets of narrative.
Today’s Gospel passage recounts St. Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah of the immanent conception of John. Two differences from the Annunciation of Jesus stand out. The first concerns the circumstances of each. John is conceived through natural means by an elderly, “barren” woman. Jesus is conceived through “the power of the Holy Spirit” by a young virgin.
Perhaps even more significant are the differences between the persons to whom Gabriel appears, and their responses to heavenly messengers. Focus today on the response of Zechariah to Gabriel. Zechariah is struck mute because of his disbelief. This is ironic given that his son is destined to be “the voice crying out” the advent of the Word made flesh. Pray today asking God not only that your voice might be His instrument, but also that disbelief may never prevent you from listening to another who is pointing your attention towards God’s Good News.