Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
(II Samuel 7:1-5.8b-12.14a.16; Luke 1:67-79)
Today’s gospel is comprised entirely of the song or canticle of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. It is commonly called the Benedictus, the Latin for its first word “’Blessed.’” Zechariah is singing praise to God on the occasion of His new-born son John’s circumcision. The song, however, keeps the Messiah, Jesus Christ, front and center. He is the “mighty Savior” who will have come to free Israel from its oppressors. John serves as the Messiah’s forerunner, the one who “’go(es) before the Lord to prepare his way.’”
Something akin to Matthew’s genealogy, Zechariah’s canticle underscores a relationship of the Messiah to two essential figures of the Old Testament. First in the order of the canticle, Jesus comes from the David’s lineage. As the first reading promises, he will establish an eternal dynasty bearing David’s name. Just as important, Jesus fulfills the oath God made to Abraham. The patriarch’s descendants are to be as countless as the stars in the sky. St. Paul will note how this prophecy is fulfilled with the Gentiles coming to practice the faith of Abraham.
The time is at hand. Jesus is to be born. He will both fulfill Old Testament prophecies and provide the New Testament hope of eternal life. We must open our hearts and minds to him. Our response begins easily enough tonight. It continues as we carry our individual crosses in life. It ends with our taking a place among God’s glorified.