3rd week of Advent, Thursday – 19th December 2019 — Gospel: Lk 1,5-25
God’s Intervention as fulfillment
The action of the Gospel of Luke begins where it will also end (24,53): in the Temple in Jerusalem. Beginning the story in this center of Israel’s rituals and institutions shows continuity with the past. In the infancy stories, Luke presupposes some familiarity with the texts from the Old Testament describing the births of figures destined to be leaders and liberators of Israel. The biblical stories from the books of Samuel and Judges provide models for Luke’s account. From them comes the idea that the birth of a significant figure should be announced beforehand by a messenger (angel) from God, as in the case of Samson (Judg 13,2-7). An even more prominent feature is that the mother in each case has been barren until now. The motif of barrenness implies a blockage on the human side that only God’s power can overcome. If new life, leadership and rescue for the people are to arise out of such a situation, it can only come about through the direct action of God. John’s birth by a woman who until then had been barren will become final. This is a climactic instance of God’s intervention overcoming an obstacle on the human side. Here again is sacred time; a moment of God’s saving intervention, the fulfillment of promise. The first characters of the Gospel, the elderly priest, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth, enter the story as devout Israelites (1,6). They hang upon the hope of liberation soon to come to Israel at the hands of a faithful God. Both in their own way respond to this situation in order to bring to fulfillment the promised salvation.