Following his miraculous encounter with the Archangel Gabriel in the Temple and his skepticism that his barren wife could become pregnant, the priest Zechariah is struck mute for nine months until the birth and naming of his son, John the Baptist. Upon the birth of his son, his confirmation of his son’s name and miraculous return of his voice, Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and moved to prophesize.

Zechariah’s prophecy, called the Canticle (song) of Zechariah and The Benedictus (Latin for “blessed”), is a beautiful, poetic and truthful exclamation of the Salvation of Christ. Beginning with praise to God, similar to Our Lady’s Magnificat, Zechariah gives thanks to God for: presence and redemption of Israel, the fulfillment of prophecy given to Abraham and that David’s line would be the source of salvation, protection and triumph over Israel’s enemies and the gift of serving God without fear in righteousness.

Zechariah then turns to prophecy about John the Baptist and the coming salvation in Christ. Christ causes Zechariah to predict: John the Baptist will be Christ’s prophet (prophet of the Most High) to prepare His way, Christ will teach (give light) His people about the forgiveness of sins and guide them to His salvation and peace.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ inspires prophets across the ages to proclaim His plan of Salvation. Son of God, Christ fulfills all His promises, including those revealed by Zechariah, through the Incarnation. Divine Mercy, Christ intercedes and forgives the sins of the repentant. Son of Mary, Christ inflames the heart of John the Baptist throughout his life, from the womb through John’s death by beheading.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The Canticle of Zechariah is not only beautifully poetic and rich in Old Testament references but is also prophecy that comes to pass. Re-read verses 76-79 and be awed that Zechariah’s words are perfectly fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

2) In these days of discontent, men anger over “inequality”, want, injustice, redistribution of wealth, unemployment, culture wars, politics, etc.  Realizing these “problems” are a condition of fallen mankind (the same issues were a problem at the time of Zechariah), during Advent, follow Zechariah’s wise lead and joyfully give Christ thanks for your many blessings; this is the “way to peace.”

3) As hope so often seems elusive, turn to the Church’s practices of daily prayer that have sustained the faithful and inspired hope for two thousand years.  During Advent, begin to pray with the Universal Church the joyful and hopeful Canticle of Zechariah as part of your morning prayer.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead