67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
In today’s Gospel we find John the Baptist’s father rejoicing over the birth of his son! His song proclaims the glory of God’s love and promise of salvation, and his joy over the role his own son will play in fulfilling God’s plan to show mercy on God’s people through the sacrifice of Christ!
In literary terms, this would be called ‘foreshadowing’: giving a hint of what is to come later on in the story of Jesus and John the Baptist; although the song may be used as a literary device, this does not take away from its importance and meaning: it is a song of joy over the birth of a child, and a song of hope, as that child was destined for great things, even though his life would not be an easy one.
The song of Zachariah reminds me of when my daughter was born…I too was filled with joy and hope, and while I tried to keep my expectations reasonable, it was hard not to imagine great things for my daughter’s life! That first morning, when I went home to get a few hours of sleep before taking a final exam, the song “Born at the Right Time” by Paul Simon came on the radio…and I sang along, as that song is also a song of hope and expectation, as in the line: ”Never been lonely Never been lied to Never had to scuffle in fear Nothing denied to Born at the instant The church bells chime And the whole world whispering: ‘Born at the right time’.”
Like Zachariah’s song, this song is one of joy and of hope for a new life which is filled with possibility and promise…
When our children are new-born babies, all can seem possible, greatness is within their grasp as new people in God’s world; then time goes by, and as parents we can become busy and overwhelmed with our responsibilities…then, we became single parents, and that made what came before seem easy, and we in the midst of all this busy-ness we can lose sight of our hopes and dreams…or rather, they can get lost in the fray of raising children and all that comes along with that adventure.
Of course, raising our children is not all work and toil, and frustration, there is much to rejoice in being single parents: the bond we build with our children, the love we share, the fun we can have together…be it playing with stuffed animals, trips to the park, or watching them exceed at something they really love! Be it good or bad, joy or struggle, being a single parent takes up much of our time, and can make us jaded and weary, and this can cause us to adjust our expectations, and even sometimes…lose hope, especially if we see our children move in directions we are not too happy about, as they enter their teens and early adult life.
However, even if we get discouraged, it can help us if we remember that everyone is on their own path in life and that we have all gone off on tangents and made poor choices in our lives…and we (most of us) have survived to do better!
No matter how far off track our children’s (or our) lives may have gone, there is always hope…for we are all called to do something great: to make Christ known to our world; just like with John the Baptist! As Christians, we are all called live our faith out loud, and by doing so we all play a part in sharing word of God’s healing love with our broken world!
I have found that my own experience as a person broken by addiction, sin and bad choices has made me better at sharing this good news with all who need to hear it, and has made me more open minded to hear the message that others carry…always reminding me that I do not have all the answers, and that it is usually when all seems lost that the light of Christ shines brightest!
In this light there is always hope in the knowledge that we are surrounded by the Grace of God, which can restore those who have been broken no matter how far they have fallen, as we can never fall so far that God cannot catch us…and neither can our children!
Walking in the light of God’s love and salvation, filled with the Holy Spirit, know that new beginnings are not only possible, but happen all the time, giving those who have strayed the opportunity to start over again. Knowing this, we have no choice but to sing praises to God just as Zachariah did.
When we live our faith out-loud we are making Christ known to the world…even through our own failings and imperfections, worries and fears…as we are not called to be perfect, but only to be faithful and to spread the good news that God loves us as we love our own children.
Let us Pray
God thank you for giving us reasons to sing, and to praise your name. Thank you for new life, new beginnings and for the ability to start over again; and for your love that makes all things possible. Help us to walk in the light of your love as we make Christ known to the world in all that we say and do, sharing the healing word of your salvation with a broken world. Let us never lose hope, and to always remember that Christ walks with us and with our children no matter where we may stray…leading us always back to his path.