Scripture: 1st Reading: Judges 13:2-7,24-25; Resp. Psalm: Ps.70:3-6,16-17; Gospel: Lk1:5-25
The word today recounts the stories of two parents and the challenges they faced in their marital lives: Zechariah and Elizabeth and Manoah and his wife who were married but were both childless. Two things happened in the lives of these two couples: God intervened and the children they both bore became central figures in the liberation of the people.
Samson, the son of Manoah, eventually grew up, became a judge and led Israel in their war of liberation from their Philistine oppressors. John the Baptist, on the other hand, grew up and became pivotal in the preparation of Israel for the coming of the Saviour and their redemption from sin.
Both births were to be by the special intervention of Yahweh, though they were to be conceived through normal human means. The hopelessness of the barrenness of their parents was to be replaced with the joy and gladness of their births. Their conceptions were to serve as a pre-announcement of the conception and birth of the only begotten Son of God.
Both children were to bring blessings to their parents and the chosen people. Both were to be specially consecrated to Yahweh as Nazirites. Both would be specially moved by the Spirit of the Lord for the special mission to which they were called. Both were to free the people from the hands of the wicked. With their lives, both were to proclaim the Lord's, mighty deeds, justice and wonders.
In both cases, we see the triumph of faith. While in the case of the mother of Samson, the response of faith was immediate, in the case of Zechariah, that faith had to pass through the crucible of doubt and incredulity that was however brought to pass in the fullness of time.
Both Zechariah and Elizabeth "were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord." In other words, both were parents worthy of emulation who took their commitment to Yahweh with utmost seriousness, their barrenness notwithstanding. Both believed that age and time counted for nothing if God decided to intervene in the affairs of His people.
The parents of these two children believed that once God made the promise, the fulfillment was only a matter of time. They believed that those who waited unto the Lord lacked no blessing. The word today teaches us that God reveals Himself in mysterious circumstances. It teaches us that there is no situation that is beyond His solution. It teaches us to wait unto Him in the difficult and hopeless circumstances of our lives.
These conceptions and births were intended as preparations for the birth of the only Son of God. They were meant to demonstrate that God who did these marvels would still do greater one in future. They were meant to impress on us that the roles played by these illustrious children of their parents in the history of God's chosen people would be nothing compared to the redemption and salvation that God's only Son would bring when at last He came.
Let us pray: "O God, who through the child-bearing of the holy Virgin graciously revealed the radiance of your glory to the world, grant, we pray, that we may venerate with integrity of faith the mystery of so wondrous an Incarnation and always celebrate it with due reverence." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.