- Wednesday, 19 December 2018 -
Readings for 19 December
Readings of day

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1:5-25.

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother's womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord."
Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time."
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.
Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.
After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

"You will be speechless... until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words"

Voice and word are not the same thing where we are concerned since a voice can be heard without it conveying any meaning, without words, and the word can likewise be communicated to our minds without a voice, as in the wandering of our thoughts. In the same way, since the Saviour is Word..., John differs from him in being voice, by comparison with Christ, who is Word. This is what John himself answered to those who asked him who he was: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths'” (Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23). Perhaps this is the reason - because he doubted the birth of the voice that would reveal the Word of God - why Zachariah lost his voice but recovered it again when that voice was born who is the Word's forerunner (Lk 1:64). Since, for the mind to be able to grasp the word intended by the voice, we must hear the voice. It is also why, according to the time of his birth, John is slightly older than Christ – for we perceive the voice before the word. Thus John points to Christ since it is with the voice that the Word is made known. Likewise, Christ was baptized by John, who admitted his need of being baptized by him (Mt 3:14)... In brief, when John pointed to Christ it was as a man pointing to God, the incorporeal Saviour, as a voice pointing to the Word...

Commentary on Saint John's Gospel, 2, 193f. (cf. SC 120, p.339)