Daily Gospel Reflection: Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
Bishop Robert Barron
December 19, 2023
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
Gospel: Lk 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."
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, our Gospel today is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, which is thoroughly drenched in Davidic themes from the Old Testament.
The first thing we hear about Zechariah is that he serves as priest in the Jerusalem temple; and David’s dream was to build the temple in which Zechariah serves. While in the sanctuary, Zechariah is visited by the angel Gabriel; and the temple locale and the announcement of the birth of a child against all expectations brings us back to Hannah’s pregnancy, which resulted in the birth of the forerunner to David. Indeed, Elizabeth’s words upon conceiving—“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others”—powerfully evoke Hannah’s frame of mind when she, after many tears and much prayer, finally became pregnant.
What does this have to do with the life of Jesus? From beginning to end of his preaching career, Jesus’ central theme was the arrival of the kingdom of God, which was understood to mean the ingathering of the scattered tribes of Israel. And what becomes eminently clear in all of the Gospels is that this coming together would happen in and through Jesus himself, much as the knitting together of ancient Israel happened in the person of David. Jesus definitively fulfills what David himself left incomplete and unfinished.