The Lord Remembered- Luke 1:5-25

29 Dec

As I mentioned in a recent post, I was given a little mission by a priest to read through the Gospel of Luke and reflect on it.

Also, I posted some reflections on the Annunciation and on the invitation delivered to shepherds to visit the newborn Christ child. In both instances, messages of good news were given to people eager to hear them, to reflect on them, and to act on them. I then related these stories to our lives today, wherein we are called to recognize God’s message and to answer affirmatively to it. God wants all of humanity, created in God’s image, to heed his voice, to act in godly and upright ways, to recognize his mercy when we fail, and ultimately to return to him in Heaven.

In my first article here on the Gospel of Luke, I began with Luke’s dedication of his writing to Theophilus. The name Theophilus means “lover of God”. Luke wrote in Greek to a mainly non-Jewish audience. He intended that all who read his Gospel would come to a better knowlege of the Incarnate Jesus Christ, all man and all God, and therefore become devoted lovers of God.

Names are important so far in Luke’s Gospel, so I think it is appropriate to continue with this theme. This next section deals with the foretelling of John the Baptist’s birth. We are told of the historical context: Judea was ruled by King Herod, who was a puppet of Rome and an evil man. The next person we’re introduced to is Zechariah, a priest of the order Abijah (Lk. 1:5). His name means “The Lord Remembered”. I had to look this up…

The Lord has a history of remembering the righteous. Noah, for instance, was spared the fate of humanity in the flood because of his uprightness. (cf. Genesis 6:9-22). Later, Abram and his wife Sarai were granted the improbable: Sarai conceived and bore a son, Isaac (from Hebrew meaning “he laughs”, as Sarai didn’t think it possible that she could bear a son because of her age, so she laughed). The names Abram and Sarai were changed to Abraham and Sarah. God then saw the depth of Abraham’s faith in that he would sacrifice Isaac if God told him to do so. Thus, God made a promise with Abraham that his descendants would number infinitely. (cf. Genesis 18, 21-22). Another example of God’s remembrance of good people came prior to the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded with God: “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23). God proceeded to assure Abraham that as long as any righteous people were found in Sodom and Gomorrah, for their sake the cities would not be destroyed. (cf. Genesis 18:22-33) In the New Testament, Mary’s holiness was remembered, and God deemed her the perfect vessel to bear Our Lord in her womb.

God also remembers those less-than-righteous (us included), right from Adam, who, though banished from Eden, was promised the redemption of humankind to come. (cf. Genesis 3:15) That redemption was to come through Christ. But Christ needed a herald- someone to make his arrival known. That voice was John the Baptist, the child promised by God to Zechariah, whom God remembered, and his wife Elizabeth. This promise was made to this holy and pure couple though Elizabeth, like Sarah, was considered too old to conceive.

Despite her age, Elizabeth was to be consecrated to God (this is the meaning of the name Elizabeth; again I looked it up). Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, the great leader and assistant to Moses. (cf. Luke 1:5) She and Zechariah were to play a part in God’s saving plan, but Zechariah found this difficult to believe. Seeing Zechariah’s disbelief, the messenger angel Gabriel replied:

“Because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (Luke 1:20)

Importantly, we are told of Zechariah’s role as a priest. A priest who was mute was certainly incapable of doing his job properly. (cf. Luke 1:21-23) But there is a deeper meaning to Zechariah’s inablity to speak. There are times when, if one examines closely God’s revelation to us thorough nature, we are truly awed beyond words. I have experienced this awe at work in the microbiology lab, or just relaxing and enjoying nature. At times, language becomes unable to express how great God is and how wonderful his creation with which we are always surrounded is. Expression becomes muddled, as at the Tower of Babel (cf. Genesis 11:1-9), when we realize God’s glory. Yet we are still entrusted with the revelation of God’s truth to others. St. Francis of Assisi gave us a useful guideline on how to do this:

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”

Thus, when we are awed beyond belief, or just struggling to believe in God’s plan and purpose and are therefore muted, we can still be an example of Christian love to other people. Then God’s promise of salvation becomes apparent to us. We recognize our need for redemption from sin, and we may well react like Elizabeth, accepting God and becoming consecrated to him:

“This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.” (Luke 1:25)

May the peace and mercy of Christ be with all God’s people. Amen.

WRS

On meanings of names, see http://www.babynamenetwork.com/
On St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), see http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/st_francis_of_assisi.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: