The priest Zachariah goes into the temple bearing incense to worship the Lord , “In the days of King Herod”. An angel appears next to the altar of incense and says to him. “Your prayer has been heard,..Your wife will bear you a son.”
Surely, the old priest was no longer praying for a son. Childbearing was over for his wife and himself. The promise of new life was long gone; there’s no hope for a child.
But the angel promises a child “great in the eyes of the Lord” to be called John, who will more than fulfill their hopes, turning “many of the children of Israel to their God.”
The old priest doubts and is punished with silence. He won’t speak until after the child is born. Then he speaks again, as he announces to those at his birth that “his name is John.”
You lose your voice when you lose hope in God’s promises. You get it back when you believe. When John is born, Zechariah sings a song of praise at God’s unexpected gift.
The Communion Prayer for today’s Mass says: “As we give thanks, almighty God, for these gifts you have bestowed, graciously arouse in us, we pray, the desire for those yet to come.”
Never doubt the gifts God wants to give, Zechariah tells us. Doubt silences us. God’s gifts give us a voice.
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
Thank God for Mary’s courage. When I was a young girl of 14 or 15, as her
age is said to have been, and an angel appeared to me I would been terrified
and probably have looked for some place to hide. From what little I knew then
about unwed pregnancy, mostly spoken of in hushed or whispered voices, I knew it was not a good or acceptable thing, and if I hadn’t found a place to hide and the angel asked me what he asked Mary, I would have said “no!”
That kind of courage takes a Mary to answer “yes.”
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Great insight, Gloria. When we bring our own experience to the gospels they take on added meaning. Santa Claus is on our Kitchen table. Thanks.
When you lose your voice: you lose hope! Having had a nasty sinus bug, my voice came and went amidst congestion and ear/throat pain. Like Zachariah, I was not able to perform in our parish choir and terribly missed the Advent songs for two weeks. Voice restored: when you believe. Like Zachariah, I am able to offer full voice prayer and song which evidences my faith and my wellness! In this season of greetings, if voice is not available, we have the option to write cards, either electronic or paper. There are a multitude of ways to live faith. Alleluia!
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Liz, I can commiserate and identify with you! Although I no longer sing in a choir, I still enjoy singing and chanting, but when I lose my voice I am frustrated as well as disappointed. Regaining a voice feels like being let out of a kind of prison!
“God’s gifts give us voice.” Amen.
I have gratitude for these gifts you have bestowed, Lord, graciously arouse in me the desire for those yet to come.
I wonder if Zachariah continued to make temple visits for voiceless prayer. Or was vocal prayer the only way priests could offer prayer in the temple? His voice restoration happened when he wrote the name John at the birth of his son. That’s when his hard heart was softened by grace. He is a good example for me of God’s creativity, always finding a way to enter my life like the way God blessed Zachariah.