Lectio Divina – 38
Fr Martin Kallunkal
“And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the faithful love of our God in which the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow dark as death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit grew strong. And he lived in the desert until the day he appeared openly to Israel” (Lk. 1:76-80)
In the passage we have read, we find Zechariah expanding what the Angel Gabriel had told him about his son, John. Gabriel had prophesied that: with the spirit and power of the Prophet Elijah John would go before the Lord to prepare the way (Lk 1:17). Therefore, Zechariah rightly calls John, “Prophet of the Most High.” It is important to note that Zechariah is addressing a child of eight days! This shows how strong Zechariah has grown in faith in less than one year. Zechariah is not a doubting priest anymore. His thoughts spring from God’s words, and not from the upper layer of his discursive consciousness full of critical counter questions. Now, coming to the content of Zechariah’s Benedictus, let us take note of a couple of points: First, this passage tells us very clearly what salvation means. The positive content of salvation is worship of God and holiness of life. Salvation is far more than political liberation. One comes to know about salvation through forgiveness of sins; and this knowledge does not evolve from the lower levels of consciousness. It is uncreated light that comes from God’s love, which primarily liberates humans from all their unfreedoms wrapped in numerous cravings. Peace is the surest sign of salvation. Second, God’s love is faithful love. Despite Zechariah’s disbelief, God’s promise is fulfilled. Even if we work at cross-purposes, God’s plan will be accomplished in time. Recall the experience of Prophet Jonah. Some nights are darker and some are longer than others are; and yet, the Sun rises and dispels all darkness, doesn’t it? What, then, is the source and motor power of our chronic doubt about God’s providence? The remotest source of doubt is the unidentified, unwillingness to accept the other as a source of sure knowledge. When the lack of certain knowledge is mutated to stubborn distrust, doubt evolves in the mind. Efforts to articulate doubts beget more doubts. Therefore, practice of silence is the remedy for the disastrous spiritual disease of doubt. After the period of silence forced on him by the Angel Gabriel, Zechariah opens his mouth not to register another doubt but to praise God’s works. Silence trains us to be faithful to God who is unfailingly faithful to us.
You send your Son, O’ Father, to those hearts prepared by your Word and Spirit. Zechariah resisted your Word initially. Although you gently chastised Zechariah for his disbelief, your faithful love prevented you from excluding him from your plan of salvation. Trusting in your faithful love, we pray to you, Our Father, to strengthen our faith in your providence. Also, ask Mary, your beloved daughter and our dearest mother, to visit us and greet us so that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah’s song is the fruit of the complete silence he practised until the child of divine promise was born. As the last verse in the passage we have read says, John remained hidden in the desert till the day he appeared openly in Israel. Following these examples, delve into deep inner silence until grace dawns in your life.
Call to mind all different kinds of gifts and talents our good God has given to our dear and near ones. Acknowledge the great things done through their hands. With cheerful heart, praise God for the good things in others life. Tell, at least, your close associates that they are very rare instruments in the hands of God.