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Nov 29th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. Dec.19, 2011—Monday Meditation (Help Prepare the Way...)
Dec.19, 2011—Monday Meditation (Help Prepare the Way...) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:16

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By Bro Bobot Apit


Let us reflect seriously on our own calling by God. Like John, each of us has been called to be a forerunner of Jesus, to prepare the way for Jesus to come into other people’s lives, especially those who have not yet had the experience of knowing him.

When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith "alive" to his promises. Do you pray that "the hearts of parents and children may be turned to God and one another"?

L uke 1:5-25 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechari'ah, of the division of Abi'jah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. (6) And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (7) But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. (8) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, (9) according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. (10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. (11) And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. (12) And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. (13) But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (14) And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; (15) for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. (16) And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, (17) and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." (18) And Zechari'ah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." (19) And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. (20) And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." (21) And the people were waiting for Zechari'ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. (22) And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. (23) And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. (24) After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, (25) "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." 


Meditation from Living Space


T here are close parallels in Luke’s Infancy Narrative between the birth of John the Baptist and that of Jesus. There are also significant differences. The First Reading, too, provides a prototype for today’s Gospel story as it describes the birth of Samson.


Today we read about the annunciation to Zechariah, about the birth of a son to his elderly wife, already past child-bearing age. Clearly it was a birth which, in normal circumstances, should not have happened. In a society where having children, and especially boys, was a wife’s primary duty, to be unable to produce children was a terrible shame. It was the ultimate failure. One had been chosen as wife for this purpose and this purpose alone. Love and affection had very little to do with it. And it was, of course, presumed that it was the wife and not the husband who had failed.


That is why widows in the Scripture are listed as among the most pitiable of people. Such women might still be quite young when they lost their husbands to war, an accident or disease but, as “second-hand material”, they were not eligible for re-marriage (whatever about extramarital unions) and so could not be mothers. Being the mother of a son is what women were meant to be. A woman who could not be a mother was less than a person.


Right through the Scriptures – in both the Old and New Testaments the births of significant people happen in circumstance which point strongly to some divine intervention. So there are in the Bible a number of incidences where elderly women who had never borne a child are, through the intervention of God, blessed with a child, usually a son. So here, too, Elizabeth’s barrenness is seen less as a curse than as a preparation for something special.


As we see, today’s first reading recounts one of these – the birth of Samson. What is peculiar to all these stories is that the child to be born has a very special role given to it by God. So in today’s reading, too, there is a sign of God’s intervention in the birth of John the Baptist. He is no ordinary child. He has been chosen out for a very special purpose, to be the forerunner of Jesus, the last of the great prophets of the Hebrew Covenant.


The opening of Luke’s gospel is a kind of diptych with parallel stories announcing the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. We are not dealing here with literal history, although Luke posits the story in a genuinely historical context, “in the days of Herod, King of Judea”. Luke writes in imitation of Old Testament birth accounts (like the one in the First Reading), mixing historical facts and legends. So we do not ask: Did all this happen exactly as described? Rather, we ask what does it mean? And primarily it is part of the answer to another question: Who is Jesus Christ?


In today’s story we have the classical situation of the elderly wife who is childless. Then one day, the husband, Zechariah, a member of the priestly caste is spoken to by an angel while serving in the Temple. The birth of a son is announced and his destiny. He will not touch strong drink (like Samson before him) and be filled with the Spirit of God even before his birth. He will be the source for many to find their way back to God. Zechariah responds with some skepticism and is punished with dumbness for his unbelief. But, following this experience, Elizabeth conceives a child.


The stage is set for the next, and more important, Annunciation.


Today, let us reflect seriously on our own calling by God. Like John, each of us has been called to be a forerunner of Jesus, to prepare the way for Jesus to come into other people’s lives, especially those who have not yet had the experience of knowing him. # # #



O Theos Na Mas Evlogisi!
PRAY as if everything depended on HIM. ACT as if everything depended on YOU. – Bobot Apit


For past gospel meditations or to browse spiritual readings, you may visit the following:!/home.php?sk=mynotes


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Last Updated on Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:19

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