Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Advent
Scripture Readings: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14-16; Lk 1:67-79
In my bible, this passage is entitled “Zechariah’s Song”. This is a sung gospel. Zechariah is singing. This song is an outburst of joy announcing that salvation is at hand. Zechariah is certain of this and that’s remarkable because most of the thoughtful and intelligent people around him are not at all certain of this. So, what makes Zechariah so confident that a glorious destiny has been ordained for him and his people and that it will be fulfilled very soon? Reason and rational reflection are leading most of the people he knows to be doubtful about the future.
Think of our own times. Listening to most thoughtful commentators on the news, you would conclude that: the divisiveness of our politics is ushering in the end of democracy; that young people’s estrangement from Christian faith foretells a completely secular future for us all; that it is probably already too late to reverse global warming – all sensible and reasonable arguments, difficult to refute, and certain to come true assuming that events will follow the same rational pattern as our thinking. What if they don’t? What if future events are not decided by the pattern of human reasoning but by a different pattern. What if the future unfolds according to a precedent established by Love and described in the bible? The bible doesn’t relate a rational pattern of events but a series of divine interventions. God does things; God intervenes according to his divine pleasure and for our good and if you watch how God works you will discern in his actions a certain pattern. The bible describes this pattern. The Song of Zechariah is celebrating that way of God working in history. And here’s the really good news of today’s gospel: that pattern is more certain than reason. Love has reasons that Reason can’t figure out and Love doesn’t wait for Reason to understand but intervenes, takes action, heals, unifies, inspires, forgives, and raises from the dead.
So Zechariah begins to sing: God has come to his people and redeemed them; a horn of salvation rising from the House of David, foretold by the prophets; a Savior of the House of David will fulfill the original Covenant that God swore to Abraham and John, soon to be born, will be called prophet of the Most High, and prepare a way for the Redeemer. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be very well because that’s the pattern established of old; the pattern of how God works in the world. This modus operandi of God was revealed and has been confirmed again and again for thousands of years. So, brothers and sisters, be confident, rejoice, and praise God on this Christmas Eve. Now is the time to remember the grounds we have for assurance that in spite of all the dark forecasts we are hearing, our salvation is secured and will be manifest to the whole world very soon.