Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
(Judges 13:2-7.24-25a; Luke 1:5-25)
It is said that for Jews the first commandment is not: “Thou shalt have no strange gods before me,” or even: “Love God with all your heart…” No, their first commandment comes from the initial words God speaks to humans: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Thus, Zechariah and Elizabeth – two God-fearing people – feel “disgrace” both naturally and religiously for their not having born a child.
Luke punctuates the fact that Zechariah seeks a sign from the angel who bore the news of his son’s unlikely conception. The request is reminiscent of people in the gospel demanding a sign from Jesus. These skeptics are unsure about Jesus even after he demonstrates his divine authority time and again.
What God calls forth from Zechariah -- and from us as well -- is trust. He gives his word to Zechariah that Elizabeth is going to bear him a child. A wise person might admonish the priest, “Enough; believe it, Zechariah, and give praise to God.” Jesus speaks similarly to us. He tells us in the early days of Advent to prepare for his return. This means that we are to care for the needy, to pray for those who persecute us, and to thank God continuously for everything we have.