This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
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The angel said to [Zechariah], “Do not be afraid 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.”
Your prayer has been heard. So what exactly was Zechariah praying for? A child? Maybe. But I wouldn’t be surprised if most of his prayers were more like intense petitions for personal holiness. And this is striking if we consider what is at stake.
Zechariah loved to serve the Lord. Do I love to serve God? Do I seek ways to please him? Am I going out of my way to be a love gift for others?
Do not be afraid. What makes the Christmas season so awe-inspiring and beautiful is God’s glaring lack of “reason” or sensibility in it; that is, the opposite of what most atheists demand from it.
God’s descent from heaven to earth is “unreasonable,” for God could easily have worked his wonders from the safe haven of heaven rather than from the frontiers of hell. Why bother with messy humanity?
Again, God becoming human is “unreasonable” for multiple reasons, especially the practical ones. How more efficient the Lord would have been if he had appeared as a god rather than as a child; or appeared in the sky rather than in a manger. How much more convincing the Lord would have been as a Roman citizen rather than a Jewish subject.
To add a few more.
The Lord could have been so much more awful and forceful if He had not have been so humble and servile. With one finger He could have ruled the world rather than affirmed it. With one word He could have wiped away His enemies rather than wiped their tears away. He could have easily gone out and hunted down his enemies, one by one, rather than gone out and touched them, one by one…to heal them. How quickly you could have destroyed us O Lord. Instead you chose to slowly convert us.
Oh God, you would have been just in sentencing us to death rather than dying for us. You could have thrown the book at us, rather than opened it. Why did you base your kingdom on love, and not on science; on ministers and not on masters? Why not establish a court rather than a church? Why not hand us some decrees instead of some parables?
Your prayer has been heard. The power of prayer is found in the way it is heard: on a first come, first serve basis: “O Come, O Come, Emanuel and ransom captive Israel” (cf. Is 7:14). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
Zechariah first came, first served, and was left speechless – surprised out of his mind.
Hence, the secret to living is found in the mystery of service and humility. The secret to joy and success is found in the mystery of surprise.
This Advent, come to the Lord with great humility, and experience the joy of His surprises. (109)