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Advent, Gospel

A Canticle for the End of Advent

December 24

Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

“Lord open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise” (Ps 51:17). You might recognize this sentence from the Divine Office or other prayers. This is the verse that comes to mind today. Zechariah was rendered mute by the angel Gabriel when he did not believe the angel’s message, but today, in today’s Gospel reading, his speech is restored.

Why? Maybe because he learned his lesson.

When the angel announced John’s birth, Zechariah was directed to name his son John, but when John was born, people objected to the name. Zechariah, still mute, scrawled on a tablet, “John is his name.” God blessed Zechariah’s obedience and restored his speech.

Zechariah’s canticle contains his first spoken words after a long period of silence. Of all the things he could have said, look at what he chooses to say.  Zechariah praises God and speaks truth to the people around him.

Advent gave us time to be quiet, avail ourselves of the sacrament of penance, and spend time in the Word. As Advent dusk sets and Christmas dawns, are you ready to sing your own canticle of praise?

                                    Elizabeth Tomlin


If you could sing a canticle, what would it contain?

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