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Announcement of John's and Jesus' Birth
Mary and Zachariah in Luke 1
It is Christmas time again. This is the time when the hearts of Christians set their thoughts in the birth of Jesus Christ. The story is beautifully recounted in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I just read Luke 1 with the aim of rediscovering the passage of the announcement that the Archangel Gabriel made to Zacharias and Mary. Each time we read the Bible, we discover aspects of the Word as we are guided by the Holy Spirit, and I would like to share what I have been working with these two days.
Archangel Gabriel in Luke 1
While reading the announcement made by the Archangel Gabriel to Zacharias and to Mary, I found that there were many similarities. The surprise, the troubled feelings produced by such visitation, the attentive hearing of the good news and their own answers to their messenger. It was at this point, when my eyes got fixed, and I wondered why if both, Zacharias and Mary, asked a question regarding the miracle that was about to happen in few months after his visit, he was muted until the birth of John, while she was explained the details of the message sent by God.
Comparison of Their Answers
Knowing that God is just and that there is not partiality in His ways, the answer would lie in Zachariah and Mary attitudes when asking the question.
Zachariah asked the question doubting that the announced message could actually happen because of his and his wife circumstances, he could not believe the Angel's words; perhaps, his heart became weary after a very long awaited answer to his prayers or the routine of his office as a priest did not give space to the innocence of Mary.
Zachariah and Elizabeth, his wife, were both committed to observing the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. This also gripped my attention, as sins, can attack to any believer in the most unexpected and even no convenient moments, but this reinforces what we know from God, He is impartial. Zachariah displayed the sin of unbelief in front of an Angel of God. Wonderment and reflection time for Zachariah while waiting for his baby.
Mary, instead, asked the question looking forward the answer for what in her heart had created great expectation, though defying all logic and circumstances.
"Blessed she who believed, for there will be fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord" Luke 1:45
Zachariah and Mary Prophesied and Praised the Lord
Life does not stop there. It was a new chapter in the life of Zachariah and Mary, their and their spouses would become parents of babies that were announced by God's prophets in former times! Mary and Elizabeth (Zachariah wife) met. Mary visited her relative who was pregnant after being considered barren for many years. It was in this joyful encounter that Elizabeth and Mary were filled with the Holy Spirit, and praised and sang to the Lord:
Elizabeth greeted Mary saying:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:42b-45
Mary, in turn, praised the Lord with her song:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.” Luke 46b-55
But what happened to Zachariah? He had to wait until John was born to recover his tongue. When they were about to give the name to his baby, he wrote it on a board to reassure what his wife had told them, not to call him Zachariah but John, as the Angel had announced.
Was Zachariah so hardened that he needed a sign, for him to believe that the Lord sent him a messenger from heaven giving him good tidings, in that precise day that he had the privilege to burn the incense in the temple? Was a calling to repentance instead or even punishment (The Lord rebuke those who He loves)? Was a sign for other people to open their hearts once more and remember the promises of the covenant and the words of the prophets? Perhaps all the above. What we, for sure, know is that Zachariah recovered his tongue in front of other people:
"And he asked for a writing-tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them, and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him" Luke 1:63-66
Zachariah was immediately speaking filled with the Holy Spirit:
Now his father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:63-79
© 2015 MariaInes