4th week of Advent, Tuesday – 24th December 2019 — Gospel: Lk 1,67-79
God’s visit brings salvation
Zechariah’s doubt at the words of the angel brought about nine months of divinely imposed silence. When his tongue was finally loosened, Zechariah’s actions stunned those present. Prayer had opened Zechariah’s heart so that he could eagerly accept God’s plan. No longer did it seem odd to him, but rather exciting and marvelous. His canticle encloses John’s future within a broader theme: in the birth of this child God has set in motion the promised messianic liberation. In his prophecy, at the beginning and again at the end there appears the notion of “God’s visit”: “God has visited his people and worked their redemption” (1,68) and “the Dawn from on high will visit us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (1,78). In the biblical tradition God “visits” the people to save them. The biblical idea of “visitation” can imply judgment. In this context, John was to preach the “tender mercies” of God, so that the people’s hearts would be open to receive the Saviour when he appeared. Preparing the way of the Lord will consist in giving to the people “knowledge of salvation through release from their sins” (1,77). People are “saved” like Zechariah, when they come to realize the knowledge of salvation that is in their hearts.