Late Advent Weekday — December 24 [Morning Mass]
II Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16 + Luke 1:67-79
“He promised to show mercy to our fathers ….”
This morning’s Mass is the last Mass of Advent, and as such, you might say that it presents to us the close of the Old Testament. At the center of today’s Gospel Reading is the figure of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. John having been born, the punishment of muteness is lifted from Zechariah. This morning’s Gospel Reading, then, presents his first words.
St. Luke the Evangelist notes in two separate scenes that Zechariah—in today’s Gospel Reading—and his wife Elizabeth in a previous passage—Luke 1:41—were “filled with the Holy Spirit” when they spoke. St. Luke also notes that Zechariah, “filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied”. In these two scenes, the words of Elizabeth and Zechariah—both “filled with the Holy Spirit”—are akin to the words of the Old Testament prophets. In the Creed’s section about the Holy Spirit, we profess that He “has spoken through the prophets.”
There are two parts to Zechariah’s prophecy, which the Church refers to by the first word of the text in Latin: “Benedictus”. The second part is addressed to his infant son John. We can imagine that Zechariah was cradling John in his arms as he uttered this prophecy. The words he spoke to John can also be applied to us Christians inasmuch as each of us is called to prepare a way in the world for the power of the Most High. By our words, works, and prayers we allow others to know about the mercy promised to our fathers: the Divine Mercy who is Jesus Christ, born for us at Bethlehem.