On Day 17 of our “Christmas Goodies”, we shall reflect on “Elizabeth and Zechariah”
WHAT IT IS?
The Christmas Narrative in the Gospel of St Luke begins with the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist.
After a long time of barrenness, Elizabeth conceived in her old age, and gave birth to the one who was to be “the voice in the wilderness, preparing a way for the Messiah!”
WHAT ELEMENTS CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS CHRISTMAS GOODIE -“ELIZABETH AND ZECHARIAH?”
- Their names are very significant; it tells that God’s delays are not His denials!
The name Zechariah means “The Lord remembers”; the name Elizabeth means, “the oath of God”
Thus, the name of the couple stands for: The Lord remembers His oath!
However, the long years of barrenness would have seemed as a contradiction to them – it seemed God had totally forgotten about them.
But this is where we learn, that God’s delays are certainly not His denials! He has a better plan (Jer 29:11) – always, without fail!
And they were indeed blessed with a Son – named “John” whose name means “God is Gracious!”
- Zechariah and Elizabeth were a devout couple
Lk 1: 6 says, “Both were righteous in the Eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blamelessly”
This devotion gains a golden halo, in the context of the couple facing a lack of “external signs of blessing and grace”!
The barrenness of Elizabeth was a matter of shame for the couple. It was also a social stigma, with many probably considering them guilty of “some secret sin” and hence the barrenness. Yet, they remained faithful and obedient
Our lives often lacks external signs of blessing and favours from God. We complain, we argue – “Why does God not hear my prayer?”
This devout couple teaches us that what matters most in life, is being faithful to the Will of God and being totally subject to His Divine Providence.
- Zechariah shows his deep commitment to his wife – a virtue to be imitated for couples and also to all who have consecrated themselves to God
Barrenness was a common ground, in the Jewish society, for a man to leave his wife, and have children by another woman
Zechariah, however, shows love and faithfulness to his wife. Instead, he offered his helpless situation to the One who had a solution to every problem and an answer to every affliction.
We live in a culture where many times “there is love at first sight, and divorce at the first fight!”
Zechariah teaches us that in marriages, in consecrated life and in any commitment, “being faithful is much more virtuous than being successful!”
- Zechariah shows the human side of being a “saint”
Though Zechariah was intent in prayer and longed for the blessing of the Lord, when the moment finally appeared, he showed signs of doubt and hesitation.
When Angel Gabriel gave the good news, that his wife Elizabeth would bear a child, Zechariah refuted, “How shall I know this?”( Lk 1:18)
As a priest of God, he knew that God could offer messages in supernatural ways. As a devout and prayerful person, he longed for the intervention of God in his life. Yet, when the actual moment came, he fumbled a bit.
We too have our moments of spiritual high and ecstasy. Yet, pure as we are in our intentions and longings, we too falter at times.
Zechariah teaches us not to lose heart, even if we encounter “human weakness” in our pursuit to be holy.
- The couple teaches us that God chooses sometimes the hard way, to raise His chosen ones to the higher realms of perfection
Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were pious.
Zechariah, as the priest, was also diligent in his priestly duties.
Yet, this encounter with the Divine, made them realise their unworthiness and littleness and the awesomeness and greatness of God.
The muteness of Zechariah was a reminder of his unworthiness and the Divine way of humbling him.
It was a miraculous period in the life of this couple; yet, the muteness of Zechariah and the uncertainty of what would this child turn out to be, made the couple to walk the hard path, in seeing the glory of God
- The couple strongly reminds us that nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for God.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, in their old age, had probably got used to “the shame” that society meted out to them.
‘Conception at this old age, was next to impossible ‘ was a bitter pill that they had swallowed.
Yet, God reveals that “he can produce springs in the valleys and turn deserts in pools of water” (Is 41:18)
- The “muteness” of the couple reminds the “muteness” experienced by the people of Israel
The people of Israel experienced a great silence, a “muteness” in their long wait for the Messiah.
We too undergo such experiences of “muteness” when there is a lack of consolations from the Lord, when the Lord seems to be absent in our lives etc
- The couple teaches to always hold on to “what God says, even when humans contradict”
In naming the son, the family members had differing opinions (Lk 1: 59-62)
But Elizabeth and Zechariah, remained steadfast to the Word of the God, who had worked miracles in their life.
We too often have many worldly voices that gives differing opinions; but we are exhorted to remain attentive to the voice of the Lord, and be bold to stand fast, in doing God’s Will alone
WHAT RESOLUTIONS CAN I PRACTISE TODAY?
Today I will seek to remain faithful to God, in all situations and trials of life, realising that He knows what’s best for me
Today I will seek to be joyful and hopeful, even when I have to walk the path of suffering and struggle, in order to have the Lord’s Will fulfilled in my life
Lord, like Elizabeth and Zechariah, let me also be faithful to You at all times and in every circumstance of life, and to trust that nothing in life, is impossible for You, Amen!
MARANATHA – COME, LORD JESUS!
We welcome you into our hearts! God Bless!