The Canticle of Zechariah
Today is the last day of our nine-day novena or simbang gabi for the coming celebration of Christ’s Birthday. As we faithfully go through with these nine days of preparation, three things that stand out very clearly in all gospel passages. They are:
First is Promise. God is always faithful to His promise. God made so many promises in the Old and New Testaments. He has made promises also before us and all these promises are fulfilled because God is Truth and He is not a liar, a deceiver, one who takes advantage of others. He always stands by His words. Just like what Zechariah had said in today’s gospel. He said: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for He has visited and brought redemption to His people.”
Let us make our faithful God our inspiration and guide especially that we live in an era of unkept promises. Nations sign important treaties and then break them. Many couples too show little regard for their wedding vows. In this kind of society, we who are God’s people should be known for keeping our promises. Just like during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, General Douglas McArthur, had to flee the country to Australia for a military mission but he said: “I shall return.” It took years for him to return and at last he did return to fulfill his promise, much to the jubilation of the Filipino people. God did fulfill His promise more than what McArthur did, God sent His only Son as our Savior and rescue us from the slavery of sin and death. Here are the twelve of the many promises God has made for us Christians to claim: God’s presence (Heb. 13:5); God’s protection (Gen. 15:1); God’s power (Isa. 41:10); God’s provision (Isa. 41:10); God’s leading (John 10:4); God’s purposes (Jer. 20:11); God’s rest (Matt. 11:28); God’s cleansing (1 John 1:9); God’s goodness (Psalm 84:11); God’s faithfulness (1Sam. 12:22); God’s guidance (Psalm 25:9); God’s wise plan (Rom. 8:28).
Second is Prayer. It is because for the past simbang gabi we have spent together in offering our prayer to God but do we truly pray? Lately, have we prayed for the Abbu Sayyaf especially for their safety, the terrorist for their own good? Who are those that you have included in our prayers lately, only our family, only those whom we love, only the sanitized? Have we included the names of any of our enemies in our prayers lately? First and foremost, a chapter in the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy begins with a stress that the church or the Christians pray for everyone. If we want to say this, beginning from the negative side of things, we would say that nobody is exempted or outside the sphere of prayer. There is no person for whom we cannot pray. That is why I asked questions about whom you are including in your prayers. I like the positive spin, therefore I say, every person is a potential subject of your prayer.
Last is Proclamation of Gratitude. This Benedictus or Song of Zechariah is a great example of a truly grateful heart especially during this Christmas Eve. God indeed blesses us when we are generous because we have so much to thank Him, especially for His gift to us, His Son.
Somebody said that when we express our gratitude to God, it’s easy to emphasize material prosperity and the qualities of life that are wonderful to have but easy to lose. Good health is a great blessing but it could be gone tomorrow. Into the most loving families and friendships, death intrudes when we least expect it. Our tables may be loaded with food today but we could be out of work tomorrow and wondering about our next meal.
How about taking a new approach to giving thanks today? Instead of focusing on the traditional areas of food, family, and friends, let’s thank God for what we cannot lose. Romans 8:35-39 is a great place to begin. After considering the difficulties and calamities that can strip away the externals from our lives, St. Paul concluded that none of them “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39). God’s love is unfailing, unceasing, unchanging and unconquerable (from Our Daily Bread, Sept.-Nov. 1997, p. Nov. 27).
And so let us go home after this Mass with you: God’s promise, prayer, proclamation of gratitude and make a difference during tomorrow’s Christmas celebration.
OPTION 01, 02, 03,