December 19, 2014 Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1: 5-25
Reflection by Sister Mary Albertine Stachowski, cssf
What a strong parallel there in both readings today. Each story portrays a surprise from God … the women in each story are elderly and thought unable to conceive. Today’s first reading tells of the birth of Samson.
In today’s Gospel … the elderly Elizabeth is blessed with a child … who will be known as John the Baptist. Both births are announced by an angel … Samson’s to his mother … and John’s to his father. Both Samson and John are consecrated to the Lord … are destined to play a specific role in salvation history. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon Samson and he will be involved in events that will liberate Israel from slavery … this will be a prefiguring of Christ’s redeeming action. John is filled with the Holy Spirit … and is great in the sight of the Lord … John will call people to repentance as a preparation for the coming of Jesus. Samson and John have a specific role to play. Each of us, too … has a special calling from God … a role specific to each one of us … it is ours to discover and accept.God never stops surprising us. Let us prepare well … especially as Advent winds down … so that the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts … and enable us to respond to our unique call … whatever it is!
Gospel lk 1:5-25
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.”