Each morning, I pray the Canticle of Zechariah during Lauds. And I do my best to think about the words uttered by Zechariah, father of Saint John the Baptist, more than 2000 years ago.
But there are some days of the year when the emotions these words bring to me are so overwhelming I can barely say them without sobbing. The Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist is one day. And, I’ve discovered, these words have great power during this season of Advent.
During this season, we, the Church, await the coming of the Christ. We don’t just commemorate the waiting before Christmas, but we also look forward to the time when He will come again in glory. Advent is the time of year when we bring to the forefront of our minds the fact that Jesus will come again. He will return. And we must be ready for Him!
Each Advent, my family uses the Jesse Tree to help us all focus on the coming of the Lord, reading Scripture from the Old and New Testaments that talk about God’s covenant with His people and with the whole world. All of the Scripture points to Jesus, and it all serves as a reminder that we must be making our souls ready for when He comes again to pass judgement on the world.
And amongst these thoughts is also the realization that because of God coming into the world and taking on the limitations of flesh and blood, it is possible to gain Heaven! Because God came to us, born as a helpless baby and freely giving His life for us on the Cross, we can know God in such an intimate way. The graces that God pours forth through His Holy Spirit and the Church help us to reform our lives and live for Him Who died for us.
And so when I think about these things, then read these words, I am overwhelmed with the love God has for me.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever. Amen.