Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

(Judges 13:2-7.24-25a; Luke 1:5-25)

The other day the reading from the gospel of Matthew gave the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham.  The starting point is significant.  Abraham represents a break with the past.  Humanity reached a nadir in its attempt to storm heaven with the Tower of Babel.  There is no indication that the situation improved in the stretch between the confusion of languages and mention of Abram.  Then God initiates the human race’s long trek back to virtue.  Abram proved to be a man of faith, and God marvelously rewarded him and his barren wife with a son.  Through one of their descendants humans have both an exemplar of virtue and a redeemer from sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross not only revealed God’s love but also provided humans the grace to imitate it.  In today’s gospel Luke pays a similar tribute as Matthew to Abraham.

The first reading is intended to compare Zachariah and Elizabeth of the gospel to the parents of Samson.  Nevertheless, the gospel also conveys a profound similarity to the story of Abraham and Sarah.  Both Abraham and Zachariah are very old when they receive a divine revelation that they will father a child.  Both respond with the same question, “’How shall I know this?’”  And in both cases the prophecy is fulfilled.  Both fathers will take delight in their sons.

As God works out human salvation in and through Abraham and Zachariah, He is acting in us.  He has sent His Son to assure us of His care.  Boosted by Jesus’ support we befriend the lonely, the needy, and the poor.  In the process we both become virtuous and lead others to virtue.