The Gospel Today
Saturday 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. Kein Harvey P. Chito)
Elizabeth became pregnant even if she was already past her reproductive age. She was a barren woman who was chosen by God to give birth to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
Today’s Gospel is a reminder to us that God can do whatever He wants. He can also intervene whenever He wants because He is the Author of Creation and Elizabeth’s pregnancy is a proof of this power. It is only through God’s grace that the impossible turns possible.
But God’s graces can only flow in us if we do the two basic things: prayer and action. It is not enough to pray, “God, fix my relationships,” without us doing anything at all. Our relationships will never be fixed if we will not be humble and courageous enough to face and talk to the persons that we need to deal with. It is also not enough for us to act alone without asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am sure that each one of us is always guided by the Spirit and saying our prayers will help us to tune into the graces of God.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were both believers of prayer and action. Their life is a story of determination. This value is needed in order for us to increase not just faith in ourselves, but especially faith in God.
My seminary formation is a product of prayer and action. I took a really big leap of faith in entering Holy Apostles Senior Seminary. I let go of my career to heed the call that I think and feel is the right one for me – the priesthood. I have made this major decision when I turned 25 years old this year. I have prayed a lot regarding this. I admit that it was not an easy choice but I know that at the end of each day in my life here in the seminary, I am happier than ever before in following God’s call.
My parents, especially my daddy, had a hard time accepting my decision to be a seminarian. But after several months which were enveloped with tons of prayers, he began to surrender to what I really wanted in my life and I am very blessed that he is now supporting me in this sacred journey.
Just like the couple in the Gospel, my desire to be a seminarian will not happen if I do not face my life with prayer and action. I believe that my actions are guided by prayers and my prayers happened because of my actions.
What are the “big” things that you need to do? Whatever they are, just look up, ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then act. My friends, do not forget to embrace determination just like what Zechariah and Elizabeth have done in their journey with God.