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In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord." Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time." Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, "So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others."

REFLECTION: "many will rejoice at his birth"

Day 19 of Advent

The Angel announced the supernatural birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah who had prayed for a child. Yet, Zechariah doubted and did not have the faith to believe that his prayers would be answered. Because of his doubt he was made speechless. Elizabeth and Zechariah were filled with joy, anxiously awaiting John the Baptist. "Many will rejoice at his birth." John the Baptist brought hope and deliverance to his people.

In the Reading from the Book of Judges the angel promises Manoah's barren wife the supernatural birth of Samson. This was part of salvation, part of God's plans. Manoah and his wife were filled with expectation.

Do we believe that God will fulfill His promises? Do we believe that God answers prayers? Is our faith filled with hope that God will take us out of our darkness? Do you believe that God loves you because He is love? We have done nothing for the favors God gives us. Neither Zechariah or Manoah deserved God's mercy to their pleas.

Advent fills us with hope--Our Lord is coming to visit us, to bring us peace and to give us eternal life. We need to keep our hearts vigilant, attentive and cheerful awaiting our loved one always remembering God answers our prayers according to His will.

God Bless

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