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The canticle of Zechariah

Gospel Reading: Lk 1:67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:/ “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./ Through his prophets he promised of old/ that he would save us from our enemies,/ from the hands of all who hate us./ He promised to show mercy to our fathers/ and to remember his holy covenant./ This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:/ to set us free from the hand of 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 shadow of death,/ and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Zechariah sees the birth of his son John as a sign of God’s visitation and redemption of his people. He blesses God for this. He sees God as the God of Israel. And what God does is not only for him but also for the whole nation that he sees oppressed by a foreign power. As a priest who serves in the Temple, Zechariah experiences difficulties in giving worship to the Lord. There are enemies around, the Roman soldiers, who sow fear among the population. No wonder, they will later be advised by John the Baptist not to terrorize and extort money from the vendors. The tax collectors are not any better. They are seen as another group of oppressors. No wonder, John the Baptist will tell them not to collect more than what is required. The excess usually goes to their pockets. They enrich themselves at the expense of their own people. Zechariah’s song, like Mary’s canticle, sings out the hot issues of his time: freedom from fear, salvation from enemies, salvation from those who hate his countrymen, and freedom to worship and walk in holiness and righteousness. It promotes not so much piety as commitment.

Can you sympathize with Zechariah? Can you worship God with loan sharks, extortionists, and security forces kept at bay?

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.