4th Week of Advent
Psalter: Week 4
Ps 89:2–3, 4–5, 27 and 29
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
1st Reading: 2 S 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16
When the king had settled in his palace and Yahweh had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the ark of God is housed in a tent.” Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for Yahweh is with you.”
But that very night, Yahweh’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in?
Now you will tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh of hosts says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over my people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. Yahweh also tells you that he will build you a house.
When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure.
I will be a father to him and he shall be my son. If he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod, as men do.
Your house and your reign shall last forever before me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”
Gospel: Lk 1:67–79
Zechariah, filled with holy spirit, sang this canticle,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has come and redeemed his people.
He has raised up for us a victorious Savior
in the house of David his servant,
as he promised through his prophets of old,
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of our foes.
He has shown mercy to our fathers
and remembered his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to Abraham, our father,
to deliver us from the enemy,
that we might serve him fearlessly
as a holy and righteous people
all the days of our lives.
And you, my child,
shall be called prophet of the Most High,
for you shall go before the Lord
to prepare the way for him
and enable his people to know of their salvation
when he comes to forgive their sins.
This is the work of the mercy of our God,
who comes from on high as a rising sun
shining on those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and guiding our feet into the way of peace.”
Having witnessed and experienced God’s deliverance, Zechariah breaks into a psalm of praise and thanksgiving, and we have what has come to be known as the Benedictus. The first part is a homage to God for the fulfillment of His promises and the realization of the Messianic hopes of the chosen people of God. The second part is addressed to his newborn child, who is “to go before the Lord to prepare the way for him.”
In the birth of John, Zachariah finds that the promise of God’s salvation has already been fulfilled: “He has come and redeemed His people.” The one who had doubted the possibility of God’s promise (Lk 1:18) is the first to believe in the realization of God’s redemption even when it has only just begun! He blesses the child John and the unique destiny God has planned for him. Thus he releases John into the hands of God, knowing fully well that the child truly belongs to God. “This is the work of the mercy of our God,” he declares, “guiding our feet into the way of peace.”
Let us also praise and thank God for fulfilling His promises in our life.
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