December 23 – Late Advent Weekday
Malachi 3:1-4,23-24 + Luke 1:57-66
December 23, 2019
… he spoke blessing God.
In these last weekdays before Christmastide, our Gospel passages focus not on the Holy Family, but on Elizabeth, Zechariah and John the Baptist. These passages come from St. Luke’s account of the Gospel. It’s striking how much attention Luke shows to the events surrounding the birth of John, and how many parallels to and contrasts with the stories of Jesus’ birth that Luke makes.
Today’s Gospel passage contrasts Zechariah with Joseph. Joseph is never, in any of the four Gospel accounts, recorded as saying a single word. But he is the “just man” whose actions speak louder than words. Zechariah, however, is struck mute because he acts unjustly: he does not trust in God’s Word. Today, though, we hear Zechariah speak once again after he acts in accord with God’s Will. He names his child “John”, his mouth is opened, and “he spoke blessing God”.
As far Luke’s Gospel account goes, this is the end of the story for Zechariah. His vocation as John’s father continued for many years after these events, of course. But within the narrative of the Gospel, we’ve heard Zechariah move in his life from speaking unjustly, to being struck mute, to acting justly, to blessing God. If each of us has examined his conscience during Advent and seen in Zechariah an image of our own unjust actions, today’s Gospel portrait of Zechariah offers us hope.