The Gospel reading from the Mass for December 19 is Luke 1:5-25.

Despite being born into holy Jewish linages (Zechariah and Elizabeth are born in priestly linages), fulfilling obligations for a religious vocation (Zechariah is a priest) and living blameless lives before God, Elizabeth was barren through out her child-bearing years, is elderly and unable to conceive. In a culture which rejoiced in children and often blamed a person’s sins for barrenness, Elizabeth’s inability to conceive a child was both a heartache and a source of shame.

Despite the rarity of being called to offer incense and prayers in the inner Temple (the Holiest of Holies), Zechariah is mysteriously chosen by lot. The Archangel Gabriel, who’s last appearance in Scripture is to Daniel, some 600 years earlier to announce the future Messiah (Dan 9:21-27), is one of the seven archangels who minister in the presence of God (Rev 8:2). Gabriel reveals the couple’s prayers have been heard and they will bear a son who will announce the arrival of the Messiah in the “spirit and power of Elijah.”

Unlike the Blessed Virgin Mary who will accept Gabriel’s stunning revelation of her Virgin Motherhood, Zechariah is fearful and full of of doubt; he is immediately struck mute and will remain so until the birth of John the Baptist. As he leaves the inner sanctuary of the Temple, Zechariah attempts to explain what has happened and the Jewish worshipers realize he has seen a sign. He returns home and, despite remaining mute, has marital relations with elderly Elizabeth who miraculously conceives.  At long last, Elizabeth rejoices as her shame of barrenness is lifted.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ makes the plan of Salvation History come to be across thousands and of years. He intervenes in the lives of men, answers prayers and causes miraculous biological events to occur (the elderly bear children, men are made mute).  Son of God, Christ creates angels, supernatural beings who stand in His presence and do His will.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) It is believed that Luke, the physician who accompanied Paul and authored the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, received directly from Mary, the Mother of God, the detailed accounts of the Infancy Narratives. During Advent, marvel at how Mary remembers the miraculous events that surround Christ’s infancy.

2) Rather than some strange superstition, Christ through the Gospels confirm the existence and activity of angels, including the most awesome of angels, the Archangels. During Advent, renew your understanding of Angels (CCC 57, 326-336, 350-352, 1034, 1352) and pray for St. Gabriel to pray for and protect you and your loved ones from the Evil One.

3) It is not surprising that men fail to trust that God answers prayers; Zechariah stood in the presence of the Archangel Gabriel and had difficulty believing God’s truth. During Advent, reflect on the Characteristics of Faith (CCC 153-165) and pray for Christ to give you the faith to trust in His Grace and that He will answer your prayers.