Friday, March 8, 2019

Luke for Lent: 1: 11-20

Word of God:

And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.
And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. And the angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.

Word of Man:

The Lord's messenger appears to Zachary as he's performing his priestly duties. His story has many parallels, most notably, perhaps, Abram and Sarai.

The encounter with the angel parallels Mary's. The differences are subtle so that I have always had difficulty seeing the difference between his and Mary's reactions. But the angel saw that Zachary doubted while Mary believed. Perhaps his facial expression betrayed his doubt. Perhaps the angel was permitted to see each's inner thoughts. Either way, God's will was worked through them both.

John shall "convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God." In the early days, the Lord was God of the Israelites, and not of the heathen gentiles. Though, truly, we know from the stories of Adam and Noah that he is the God of all mankind.

God reclaimed first the Jews and later the gentiles. Yet many of his own people continually turned from him. Likewise, we who are gentiles, adopted sons and daughters of God, have turned from him.

Lent is a time for new beginnings. Some wrongly see customs like lent as nothing more than pagan worship of the seasons and fertility cults in a cassock. Rather, those cults are a mockery of God, who made the seasons, who made winter, spring, summer, and fall; who gave us these times of the year so that we may come to know him and glorify him.

So after a spiritual winter, we arrive at lent, a new spring where we recommit our lives to Christ, were we let the wisdom of John the Baptist convert us back to the Lord our God.

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