Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Today's Gospel passage from Luke is referred to as the "annunciation to Zechariah." It parallels tomorrow's "annunciation to Mary," though with one major, major difference.
We have the setting: in one, the Temple, at the evening incense hour; in the other, "a town of Galilee named Nazareth".
We have the recipient of the news: "Zechariah, a priest of the class of Abijah"; "a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. And the virgin's name was Mary."
We have the same angel who announced salvation to the prophet Daniel: "the angel Gabriel."
We have the same gut-level response to the angel's presence, and the same encouraging words from the angel, "Do not be afraid."
And we have a birth announcement ("It's a boy!"): "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son"; "You will conceive and bear a son."
Then we have two very different reactions.
Zechariah's thoughts center on himself: "How am I to know this?"
Mary's question is more objective: "How will this come about?"
I wonder what Luke would have written if Zechariah had had an answer along the lines of Mary's. But perhaps Luke is making more of a point than the greater grace Mary clearly manifests. This may be just another way of Luke's emphasizing that, while the conception of John the Baptist was an unexpected blessing for his parents, who were "past the age," it was a blessing bestowed in the usual manner. As for the child Mary would bear, this would be a blessing beyond all human possibility.
Today I pray I will be open to the blessings of God, even the ones that seem impossible.

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