Scripture:The angel said to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:19, 13)
Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel likes to narrate a story about a man and balance it with a story about a woman. He begins this literary technique with the twin appearances of the angel Gabriel to a man named Zechariah and, six months later, to a woman named Mary. Zechariah hears the word of God as Gabriel delivers it to him, but he does not believe that he and his aged wife, Elizabeth, can conceive a child. So, because he did not believe Gabriel’s words – God’s words – he became mute. Zechariah is contrasted with Mary, who hears Gabriel’s words – God’s words – about the Holy Spirit coming upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her and her conceiving the Son of God in her virginal womb and declares, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.
Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” brings the power of God’s word to Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah hears, but does not believe; Mary hears, and believes. Even Zechariah’s lack of trust does not frustrate God’s word. Nine months after Gabriel’s appearance to Zechariah, Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist, and Zechariah’s speech is restored. Nine months after Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, the Virgin gives birth to Jesus, the Son of the Most High.
Hearing the word of God and trusting the messenger who delivers it is one aspect of a spirituality of mission. The word of God has a mission; it needs human cooperation – in some way – to fulfill its purpose. The prophet Isaiah narrates God declaring, “My word that goes out from my mouth shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Such is the case with Zechariah and Mary.
Journal/Meditation: What word of God have you heard and trusted? What was its purpose?
Prayer: Lord, as the rain and the snow come down from Heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, so is the word that goes out from your mouth. Grant me the ability to hear and trust your word that it may accomplish its purpose. I ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son and Word, who lives with you forever and ever. Amen.