The Canticle of Zechariah
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
From all indications, Christmas is already here. Christmas songs usher us and help us to feel the joyous atmosphere. Today’s gospel is also a beautiful song known as the “Canticle of Zechariah”.
This song summarizes the true meaning of Christmas – the reason why the whole world must celebrate. A Messiah is about to be born. He will save us and deliver us from our enemies. He comes to forgive us. Above all, he comes and guides our feet into the way of peace. Never get lost in the commercialism and materialism which accompany the season. Go into the essence of Christmas. This is why Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, sang this canticle. The Song of Zechariah expresses the deepest feeling of the Christian soul. This is time for us to seek the truth, to discover our duties.. this is a time for serving our unfortunate brothers and sisters. Share your extras with the poor. Make them feel and understand God’s merciful designs. Merry Christmas to one and all!!! ( Fr. Yoyo Rebucias, SVD Bible Diary2002)
One Christmas eve, a specialist doctor treated an old teacher of her lung problem for free. Asked why he did it, he said that he was only reciprocating what the old teacher did to him at grade school.
In one of her birthday celebrations many years ago everyone in the class brought something valuable to give her, but one poor boy could only wrap his gift with a newspaper. The whole class even laughed when he unwrapped his gift and they saw an old comb with some teeth missing. The boy was near tears, so the teacher tried to rescue him from further embarrassment by expressing her appreciation and gratitude for the gift.
That poor boy is now a successful doctor. “Strange,” said the old teacher. ‘I should be thanking you instead. That comb has brought changes in my life. I have kept it in my bag as a treasure and a reminder to be always grateful for every little good thing. This has given me endless joy as a teacher for seeing so many wonders.”
Have we ever notice that when someone thanked us for something good we did or said, we feel like doing more? Have we ever noticed that when we give away our last peso to help somebody, we are repaid a hundred times? Generosity and gratitude, both are closely related.
Zechariah’s Benedictus 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! Merry Christmas. (Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
A day before Christmas is a good time for us to reflect on the season being celebrated with a basic yet oftentimes taken for granted questions. Why is there a Christmas? It is sometimes funny that everytime I raise this question to my friends, they wonder why I am asking it and yet they cannot give me any answer except, “Of course there is Christmas because we have bonus, paries, gifts, simbang gabi, and the like.”
Christmas is significant not only because of the funfare and merrymaking it brings but much more so because God became man in Jesus Christ to save us from the bondage of sin and death.
A day before the birth, Zechariah affirmed from his personal faith experience about this God through his prayer of praise. The prophecy of Zechariah popularly known as “Benedictus” can be embraced as a prayer of assurance that God is and will always be with us.
The cry of Zechariah does not guarantee the we will be spared from all problems and trials that will come our way but rather it makes us realize that we will not be confronting the problem alone because God will be with us.
This is where the birth of Jesus comes to life in terms of trying to find enough meaning because he is that kind of God who embraced the level of being human so that he could become one of us except sin and that we will acknowledge such God as one who journeys with His people. A Blessed Christmas! (Fr. Jun Javines, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
December 24, 2016 Saturday
For people without faith, death is a reality that one has to avoid and deny. Despite all the modern inventions and technological advancement in science and medicine, we all still must die. Someone said that human activities are designed to avoid death as human being’s nal destiny; that one principal motive in human activities is the terror of death (E. Becker). O. Wells claims that, “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.” He continues that even our relationship and friendship are only an illusion that we’re not alone.
If this is our idea of death, then death is something dark and according to philosophers the ultimate evil.
In the darkness of our human destiny, the Gospel proclaims something that will bring supreme comfort in the face of this ultimate disaster. “Because of the tender mercy of God, the daybreak from on high will…shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow…”
We prepare for the birth of God who created us not to die but to live. This will be the good news of Jesus. So good and so true. He will teach and show us how to truly live in preparation for the loving embrace of the eternal Father. Jesus will be our life. Eric Fromm says something about living and dying: “To die is poignantly bitter. The idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD | DWST, Tagaytay City Bible Diary 2016)
|Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Mass in the Morning
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 289:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
Daily Advent PrayerWeekly Guide for Daily Prayer
“It was the night before Christmas …”
As I reflect, I look out from my little prayer/meditation corner of our home onto the backyard garden. It is lovely – covered in a downy white of yesterday’s snow. The scarlet of the late fall roses is replaced by the darting scarlet of the cardinals. The chickadees, woodpeckers, finches and the occasional blue jay swoop and dive on and off the feeder peppering the white. The black squirrel hovers, waiting for a break in the action. I witness the silent commotion of life outside my window. There is a serenity; a space of un-distortable solace deep within me. I too hover and wait.
I wait. I yearn. I long. I desire. For What? For Whom? In a way it is not fair. I know that tomorrow is Christmas, it always follows Christmas Eve. Christmas, the day we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. But I take a moment and recall that each year my longing has been unique. One of my earliest Christmas memories was wanting a bike. I was thrilled with my new second-hand bike. Another year, it was a desk; my own desk for my own things! My dad made it, or at least assembled and stained and varnished it. I still have that desk, anointed with the scoring and scars of two generations – mine and our sons. Then came the years when my waiting was the pregnancy of life, our children. One of my fondest memories was the Christmas my older sister and I made and stuffed stockings for our parents and grandparents. Their surprise and delight was surpassed only by my own. My longing had been for their delight. As a child of ten I had ignited the child in them! None of us had any idea what was in store for us that Christmas morning. This Advent, it is the pregnancy of a grandchild that fills my longing.
Notice in the first reading of Samuel; in response to David’s wanting to build the Lord a proper dwelling such as he himself had, the Lord questions “…Should you build me a house to dwell in?” The Lord reminds David of their personal relationship; the numerous times and incidents when the Lord has been present to David and what the Lord intends for David in the future. As if to say, and in return you want to build me a house? It is an in-your-face reminder that it is personal intimacy, relationship, and faithfulness that the Lord desires from David. The Lord is longing for David’s intimate response, not a house. It is not about the ‘what,’ but about the ‘whom’.
In the gospel, Luke reminds us in the words of Zechariah, that the Lord, God of Israel, has come to his people with mercy and compassion to set his people free and “to shine on those who dwell in darkness…and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” In his recent time of silence, Zechariah has had time to reflect on the past tender mercies of the Lord in his life and in the history of Israel. He reminds us of the covenant with Abraham whereby we are invited into a personal intimate relationship.
The longing is dual sided. The Lord continues to long for me while I continue to long. This Holy Longing that we mutually share is lived out in the reality of our human relationships. The Lord does not require sacrifice, but longs for the loving response to the incarnate Love which we will again joyfully celebrate tomorrow.
“It was the night before Christmas …”Joan Blandin Howard
Christian Spirituality Program
JOSE AND MERCY – “because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness…” – Luke 1:78-79
Jose killed two men in a vendetta in his hometown. In prison, he became an all-around helper for the warden during the day and his “runner” at night. Eventually, he was allowed to escape. He moved to another town and worked in a farm. Just when he was about to settle down with a second common-law wife, he got into a fight and stabbed his co-worker. The man survived, but Jose escaped town again.
Jose settled in another province. A couple hired him as a part-time gardener, clueless of his past. Hardworking and exhibiting good behavior, he eventually became their live-in caretaker. Moved by their trust and kindness, he told the truth about his past. Instead of dismissing him, the couple let him stay. Mercy, the wife, showed him motherly concern and guidance. Mercy introduced him to the faith and Jose slowly rebuilt his life.
God arranged for Jose to meet Mercy just as He arranges for us to meet people we can lead back to Him. At times, He uses us as His channel of grace to extend forgiveness and a second chance to our fellow man. It’s our choice to heed His call or not. Marie Franco (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: On this day before Christmas, how can you be an angel of mercy to someone in need of God’s second chance?
Father God, if it is Your will that I be Your messenger of mercy and hope to one soul, grant me a pure heart to do Your will.
LET’S BREAK IN THE DAY – The Song of Zechariah, traditionally titled by its first Latin word, “Benedictus,”mentions the coming of the “dawn from on high” that shall break upon humanity (Luke 1:70). John the Baptist is referred to as the signal of the dawn, the break of Day. His birth indicated the proximity of the day of salvation, the day of the Messiah.
The reference to the “dawn from on high that breaks upon us” makes the“Benedictus” the appropriate Gospel for today, the day before Christmas Day. Pagans thought that December 25 was the “Day,” the birthday of the Invincible Sun. They believed the yearly winter brought a dying effect on the sun, and that on December 25, the “Winter Solstice,” a new sun is born to begin to conquer the skies with its bright light and heat. With this, life on earth becomes possible. We, Christians, know better — that Jesus, whose Incarnation we celebrate, is the true Invincible Sun, the light that never sets, for His light is the same as that of the heavenly Father.
Zechariah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, sang how his son, John the Baptist, was the indication of the break of Day. And that Jesus’ Incarnation is the Day: Jesus becoming God-Man is the Day that fulfilled the words and expectations of the prophets of old.
Jesus becoming God-Man is the Day that fulfilled the divine promise to David to whose house and lineage God will bring forth the Messiah. Jesus becoming God-Man is the Day that breaks the darkness of sin and death.
On this day that breaks into the Day of Christmas, we are also challenged to proclaim like Zechariah the blessings of the Day of the Lord. The onset of contemporary progress and industrialization made our skies literally hazy with dirt and smog; the new culture has brought also a new experience of anxiety and absurdity in the hearts and minds of many. There is growing fear about uncertainties of the future, fear about where we are heading. A new Day of meaningful existence awaits. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTION: What blessings or grace have you received from God during the nine-day preparation for Christmas? Thank God for them.
I will forever be grateful to You, O Lord, for the endless graces that You pour into my life. Amen.
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
2Sm 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16; Lk 1:67-79
Humble but effective instrument in the hands of God
In our first reading from the book of Samuel we see King David seeking guidance from Nathan the prophet to build a temple for Yahweh. King David felt bad that he lived in a palace built of precious cedar wood while the Ark of the Covenant still remained in a tent. Nathan the prophet was impressed and instantly gave him permission to go ahead and wished and blessed him towards its successful completion. But that night the Lord spoke to Nathan and said: Go, tell my servant David, â€˜Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in? It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. Every now and then we human beings need to be told who and what we are. David had to be told not to look at everything that he achieved as his own accomplishments. He was merely an instrument in God’s hands. Yahweh made it very clear to David that he will not be the one who will build a temple for Yahweh with his blood stained hands. This is something that all of us, including those in positions of authority, should always remember “ do not try to patronize God. Though David was conscious of it or not, this was exactly what he was doing “a typical covert patronization!
Whereas in the Gospel we find Zechariah, John’s father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesying:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.â€ In these words of Zachariah, we do not see any trace of ego or patronizing attitude. He was full of gratitude and hope. He reminds his child to be a humble but effective instrument in the hands of God. That is exactly what John became in due course. Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
December 24, 2015 MISA DE GALLO
NAGMATINUD-ANON BA KITA SA ATONG KASABOTAN UBAN SA DIOS? Ang mga tawo sa Israel gitawag og “Katawhan sa Kasabotan” tungod kay ang ilang kinabuhi nagtuyok man diha sa kasabotan nga ilang gihimo uban sa Ginoo. Ang mga Israelita nanumpa nga mosunod sa mga kasugoan sa Dios, samtang si Yahweh nanumpa nga mailang Ginoo hangtud sa kahangturan. Sa daghang higayon, ang mga Israelita nagmabudhi-on, apan si Yahweh nagmatinud-anon sa tanan niyang gisaad, ilabi na ang panaad sa pagluwas kanila gikan sa mga kaaway pinaagi sa pagpadala og Mesiyas. Kini ang gipadayag ni Zacarias sa iyang awit sa pagdayeg ngadto sa Dios. Ang pagkatawo ni Hesus maoy katumanan sa mga panaad sa Dios. Pinaagi kang Hesus, ang katawhan sa Dios nakaangkon og kaluwasan gikan sa mga kaaway, ilabina gikan sa sala ug kamatayon.
Himoon nato ang pagbag-o sa atong kasabotan uban sa Dios. Manaad kita sa Ginoo nga seryosohon nato ang pagsunod sa Iyang mga kasugoan.
Si Hesus mao ang atong kaluwasan – ang dalan, ang kamatuoran ug ang kinabuhi. Atong sugdan pagsunod ang iyang mga pagtulon-an ug panig-ingnan. Posted by Abet Uy
Saturday, December 24, 2016
DECEMBER 24 – LUKAS 1:67-79. NAGMATINUD-ANON BA KITA SA ATONG KASABOTAN UBAN SA DIOS? Ang mga tawo sa Israel gitawag og “Katawhan sa Kasabotan” tungod kay ang ilang kinabuhi nagtuyok man diha sa kasabotan nga ilang gihimo uban sa Dios. Ang mga Israelita nanumpa nga mosunod sa mga kasugoan sa Dios, samtang si Yahweh nanumpa nga mailang Dios hangtud sa kahangturan. Sa daghang higayon, ang mga Israelita nagmabudhi-on, apan si Yahweh nagpabiling matinud-anon sa tanan niyang gisaad, ilabi na ang pagpadala og Manluluwas. Ang pagkamatinud-anon sa Dios maoy gisangyaw ni Zacarias diha sa iyang Awit sa Pagdayeg. Ug kini maghagit kanato sa pagmatinud-anon sa atong pagka-Kristiyano sama nga ang Dios nagmatinud-anon kanato. Si Mother Teresa nagpahinumdum: “God has called us not to be successful but to be faithful.” Posted by Abet Uy
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Reflection for December 24, Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent; Luke 1:67-79
Reflection: Do you acknowledge the many blessings that God has given you? For example: The air that you breathe, your loving family, the good health that you have and there are many more blessings that God showered you. Do you always remember to thank the Lord for all these blessings? Or you are already used to these blessing that it becomes ordinary for you already.
The devil would always lure us to get busy with worldly things so that we would eventually forget God. So what are the results? We will not anymore fear God, we will lose our guilt of conscience. We will therefore mindlessly commit sin such as abortion, infidelity and many more sins against God.
Zechariah was well aware of the many blessings that God has showered him and his family that’s why he praised Him. In good times and in bad he never walked away from God he remained faithful to Him. We must also be fully aware of the many blessings that God has been showering us. And we must always be grateful for all of these blessings by sharing it with those who are poor.
As I was roaming around the market to buy little food for Christmas, I saw a husband being guided by his wife. Both were old and thin and obviously very poor. I went to them and silently gave them a little from my heart. I did not receive any material thing in return from them. But got the purest smile and sincerest thank you from both of them.
Then, they proceeded to begging for anything that they could have for Christmas. As I walked away from them a tear fell from my eyes I don’t know if it was a tear of sadness or joy. – Marino J. Dasmarinas
December 24, 2016
In psychiatry, we learn that one way for the psyche to protect itself from pain is to project on others the psyche’s inner fears, guilt, shame, desires or any painful and inadmissible impulse.
We find something of this defense mechanism operating in all the people connected with Jesus (except possibly Mary). They all see Jesus as a great king who will free Israel of the detested Roman forces occupying Palestine. For example, in today’s gospel reading, which features Zechariah’s canticle, Zechariah refers to the coming Messiah as to “a victorious Savior” who will provide “salvation from our enemies” and who will “deliver us from the enemy.”
All this is true of Jesus, except that the enemy he has come to war against is sin. He has come to rid us of our pride, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, and so on. That is the inner enemy that we have problem recognizing and confessing. Instead we project our inner enemy onto a political enemy, much easier to deal with.
As the comic strip character Pogo (author: Walt Kelly) says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
December 24 2016: Thoughts on 9th Day of Simbang Gabi
“Our God is a God who will neither deceive us nor can be deceived by us.” Once he promised, He will eventually fulfill what He promised no matter how seemingly impossible it would be.
When Yahweh announced to Abraham that Sarah would conceived and bear a son: “Abraham fell to the ground, laughed, and told himself, “Can a child be born to a 100-year-old man? Can a 90-year-old Sarah give birth (Genesis 17:17)? What happened when it was Sarah’s turn? Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me (Genesis 21:6).
Here is the promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, in whom the promise made to him should be fulfilled. The assurance of this promise was the change of Sarai’s name into Sarah. So when God gave His word, when God made a promise He will truly fulfill that promise though how seemingly impossible it would sound.
When Yahweh through angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah that her wife Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, would conceive and bear a son, what was his human reaction? Zechariah finds it hard to believe. And he has enough reasons to be so considering that Elizabeth was barren and two of them were already in their old age. In addition to that, Zechariah also finds it hard to tell his relatives, friends and town mates without risking to be accused as insane or possessed by the devil.
God, however, saves him from that burden and trouble. God intervenes and does all the talking for him by rendering him speechless until the promise He made to Zechariah through an angel Gabriel was totally fulfilled when the child carried by Elizabeth in her womb was born and was given a name “John” which means “God is gracious.”
Three prophecies were fulfilled when the day the infant was dedicated to the Lord and given the name, John. One, the prophecy that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son. Two, the prophecy that the child to be born will be named John, which means, “God is gracious.” Three, the prophecy that Zechariah would speak again when everything will be fulfilled.
Zechariah, who personally witnessed and experienced the greatness of God’s merciful and saving love, proclaims: “Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, He has come to His people and set them free.” This is traditionally called “Benedictus.” The Benedictus was the song of thanksgiving uttered by Zechariah on the occasion of the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist. The canticle received its name from its first words in Latin (Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel”).
Indeed, God is truth. His word, his promise is worthy of trust. He is indeed, a God who will neither deceive nor can be deceived by us. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. Once he gave his word, his promise, He will eventually fulfill his promise.
“THREE SECRETS OF RELATIONSHIP: NEVER TELL LIES, NEVER CHEAT, AND NEVER MAKE PROMISES YOU CANNOT KEEP.”
If you want, then, to destroy your relationship just be plastic, doble kara, sipsip, balimbing, flatterer, and hypocrite. Mangako na lagi nalang napapako. Avoid being what the lyrics of the songs beautifully condemns: BAKAKON KA, LIAR, EVIL KA! To nourish, build up and strengthen your relationship and to make it succeed you need to be true, honest and faithful.
“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” (Mt 16:11) Jesus’ warning in relation to the evil of hypocrisy in the person of the scribes and Pharisees is crytal clear: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20). As a people of God and followers of Jesus, we have the moral obligation to seek the truth. Once we come to the knowledge of truth we are bound to adhere to the truth and “to live in the truth” (Rm 3:4; cf. Ps 119:30).
“Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation and hypocrisy” (CCC 2468).
“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet), thou canst not be false to God too!
Like God, let us strive to be sincere, honest and faithful and guard ourselves against the evil and the danger of hypocrisy, dissimulation and duplicity. (Fr. Estong Bendita. 2016.12.24)
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