Daily Gospel Reflection: Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Bishop Robert Barron
December 23, 2023
Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Gospel: Lk 1:57-66
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him."
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today’s Gospel tells the story of the birth and naming of John the Baptist. John’s father Zechariah had been rendered speechless after his vision in the sanctuary, but we hear that “his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” What follows this passage is the wonderful Canticle of Zechariah, which puts Jesus and John in the context of the great story of Israel. I would like to explore two lines of that great prayer today.
The God of Israel, Zechariah prays, “has come to his people and set them free.” This is what God always wants to do. He hates the fact that we’ve become enslaved by sin and fear, and accordingly, he wants to liberate us. The central event of the Old Testament is an event of liberation from slavery. We are, as sinners, enslaved to our pride, our envy, our anger, our appetites, our greed, our lust—all of which wrap us up and keep us from being the people that we want to be.
Zechariah continues: “He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.” God will effect this liberation through the instrumentation of a mighty Savior. This should be read against the background of Israel’s long history of military struggle against its enemies. A great warrior has come, and he is from the house of Israel’s greatest soldier, David. God had promised that he would put a descendant of David on the throne of Israel for all eternity, and Zechariah is prophesying that this will take place.