Late Advent Weekday — December 19
Judges 13:2-7,24-25 + Luke 1:5-25
December 19, 2020
“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.”
St. Matthew and St. Luke are the only two evangelists to record any narratives about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. But St. Luke spends far more time than St. Matthew doing this. While it’s true that the first two chapters of both Matthew and Luke are dedicated to these narratives, it’s important to recall that the chapters of the Bible do not have an equal number of verses. The first two chapters of Matthew consist of forty-eight verses, while the first two chapter of Luke consist of one hundred thirty-two verses.
Each day from today—December 19th—through the morning of Christmas Eve, the Church proclaims Gospel passages from Luke. Many of these passages are actually about the conception and birth of St. John the Baptist. Yet St. Luke very artistically parallels these narratives with those about the advent and birth of Jesus Christ.
When people think of the word “annunciation” in relation to the Gospel, they likely think first—and perhaps solely—of the Annunciation made to the Blessed Virgin Mary. But in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, three annunciations are narrated: of the birth of Jesus to Joseph in Matthew 1, of the birth of John to his father Zechariah in Luke 1, and of the birth of Jesus to Mary in Luke 1.
Today’s Gospel Reading focuses upon the annunciation to Zechariah about John the Baptist. We should be alert here to comparisons and contrasts both between Zechariah and Mary and between John and Jesus. An obvious contrast is between the advanced age of Zechariah and the youth of Mary.
More significant, however, and more important for the Christian who hears these passages proclaimed during Advent, are the contrasting responses of Zechariah and Mary to their respective annunciations. While both of them respond by questioning how what was announced could come true, Mary goes a step further by accepting God’s will faithfully with a reply of “Fiat.”
Toward the end of today’s Gospel Reading, the angel explains how Zechariah will be punished for not accepting God’s will faithfully. Nonetheless, God’s will in not deterred by Zechariah. God’s will may be detoured, but never deterred. God’s providential will always is accomplished.