Meditation for the Day

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent, December 24

As Our Prayerful Journey Through Advent Comes to an End, May We Seek the Christ Child with Humble and Contrite Hearts, but Also with Great Joy and an Expectant Hope in the Future Which Awaits Us.

On this Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas, what better Gospel to reflect the wonder of God’s Love than listening to the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, giving praise to God for remembering the promises He had made to His chosen people so long ago!

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.”

In today’s Gospel, we hear the Canticle of Zechariah, commonly known as the “Benedictus”, the title coming from the first word of the Latin text of the prayer, “Benedictus Dominus, Deus Israel” – “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Just as with Mary’s Magnificat which is prayed in the evening, the Benedictus is prayed every morning by those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is also called the Divine Office, which both Catholic clergy and religious are bound by obedience to pray. They join with millions of faithful laypeople around the world in prayer and song, remembering these special words spoken by Zechariah over two thousand years ago.

Today, we hear Zechariah proclaiming a hymn of praise celebrating the redemption of God’s people through Jesus, the Davidic Messiah, the Savior to God’s children prophesied throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

It is a song which reflects the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, beginning with the assurance which God had made to Adam and Eve after their fall from grace, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” – the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind.

Just as Mary’s hymn, the Magnificat, was one of praise and thanksgiving, Zechariah’s is one which praises the virtues of God – praising His Mercy and fidelity in choosing Abraham and all the prophets, in choosing David and his posterity, and, together with all the people of Israel, as co-partners in the relationship which God established in a lasting Covenant with His children.

Not only do we find in the words of this canticle a summary of God’s interventions in protecting His children, but, they also point to the prophetic role Zechariah’s own son would play as the herald to the Messiah:

“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.”

And at the end of this canticle, we hear the words of salvation, “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.”

And this “dawn from on high” is God’s gift to each and every one of us, Jesus Christ, whose Eternal Light will “guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The Benedictus is a prophetic canticle which speaks to us of God’s Love coming to us in a very real and personal way, fulfilling all that our Heavenly Father promised, so that we may become reconciled to His Love, repairing the harm which was done to our relationship with God by our first parents.

On this Christmas Eve, as we approach the Most Holy Day in which we celebrate Christ’s Birth, a Birth for which we have longed, I am sure that many of us are putting the finishing touches on wrapping our gifts for loved ones, making those final preparations for a family dinner, even planning the visits we will be making to family and friends.

Whatever our personal traditions may be, the sanctity of this Most Holy Solemnity begins this evening on the Vigil of Christmas, for it was then that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem seeking a place to lodge, as Mary would soon deliver unto God’s children the Savior of the world.

On this very special day, the Eve of the Birth of Jesus Christ, as our prayerful journey through Advent comes to an end, may we seek the Christ Child with humble and contrite hearts, but also with great joy and an expectant hope in the future which awaits each of us, always remembering to give thanks, rejoicing in the Lord for all the blessings which He has given to each and every one of us, both on Christmas Day and every day of our life.

As we prepare ourselves spiritually, opening ourselves to the wonder of God’s Loving Presence in the world, may we always make the words of today’s psalmist our own, “You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior.”

For Jesus Christ truly is the “dawn” who will surely “guide our feet into the way of peace”!

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me…Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.” (1 Samuel 7:14a, 16)
  • “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
  • “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.” (Luke 1:68-69)
  • “And you, my child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” (Luke 1:76-77)
  • “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.” (Luke 1:78-79)
  • “I will sing of your mercy forever, LORD, and shall proclaim your faithfulness through all ages…‘You are my father, my God, the Rock of my savior.’” (Psalm 89:2, 27)
  • “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay’…” (2 Peter 3:8-9a)
  • “…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” (Ephesians 5:18b-20)

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Prayer for the Day

“God of endless ages, Father of all goodness,
every year we rejoice as we wait in joyful expectation,
looking forward to this Feast of our salvation,
keeping vigil for the Holy Birth of Your Son.

“With gratitude, we recall His humanity,
the life He shared with the sons of men.
May the power of His Divinity
help us always answer His call to forgiveness and life.
We humbly ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

cf. Advent Prayer (Roman Breviary)

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