Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Luke 1:5 - 25
Another day, another annunciation
Before the angel Gabriel visited Mary, he showed up to talk to Zechariah, a priest taking his turn going inside the sanctuary to burn incense for prayer. Gabriel came to tell old Zechariah that he and his elderly wife, Elizabeth, would have a baby. But not just a “miracle baby” conceived in old age, but a baby who “will be great in the sight of the Lord.” But wait, that’s not all. He will be named John, he’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb, and his job will be to turn hearts back to God and “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” It was a big, important announcement, delivered by God’s angel, whose name means “Strength of God.” This wasn’t an angel to wrangle with.
Zechariah had some options here. Of all his options, he chose to ask a question. Harmless enough, seemingly. But at the heart of the question was doubt. “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Facepalm.
So, Gabriel struck Zechariah mute because he didn’t believe.
Now, you may be thinking: Mary asked St. Gabriel a question, too. But she asked not because she doubted but probably because she was just curious about how God would make it happen. Her heart was pure, she believed.
Fortunately for us, Zechariah’s doubt did not interfere with the plan (God knows what he’s doing, after all). After he went home, they conceived. John the Baptist was on the way.
Try this: Like Zechariah, we can often deal with doubts. Does God really hear me when I pray? Doesn’t God care? What am I here for? These are normal and human. When you have doubts, pray the words of the father of the demon-possessed boy, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:25)
Father, we praise you for sending St. John the Baptist to prepare the way for your Only Son. Help me continue to prepare my heart for him.