The Gospel Today
Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”
Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.
Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.
After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”
Reflection (Sem. Randy Buquis):
John means, “the Lord is gracious” and that promise certainly proved true in the life of John. It is God’s will to have the name John. The Gospel today is inviting us to remember two important things: God is gracious because He is full of kindness and God is gracious because He is full of love.
God is gracious because He is full of kindness. Maybe the invitation for us is how we give importance to the many good things we are receiving from God. How many kind acts did our parents by God’s inspiration do for us long before we were born; our mother and then our father when they taught us how to walk, how to speak and how to pray? Do we appreciate all of them?
God is gracious because he is full of love. God is love. We are present here because of His love. But we should ask ourselves what hinders us to love others, our enemies, neighbors and those we have difficulty in dealing with. Love towards God and toward our neighbor is inseparably connected. Let us always remember that Jesus is the model of our brotherly love.
Today at the very edge of Christmas, we are reminded of the Gospel to give love and be kind to one another. We are invited to bring love and our kind to the people. To give gratitude to God for all the good things we received. During the time that we are tempted to be complacent about kind acts, let us think of the sanctity of God and realize how far away we are from his perfection and goodness.