December 24

Luke 1:67-79

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)

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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)

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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)

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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
Luke 1:67-79
Praying Advent
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

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See:  Year I, Year II

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