Daily Gospel Meditation & Discussion - Tuesday 23December 2008 - WHEN GOD ACTS


Daily Prayer and Liturgy
for Today

Final Day of O Antiphons

[size=]December 23**[/size]
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expectation of all nations and their Salvation: come and save us, O Lord our God.

Advent, Part II
In the first half of Advent we count forwards: first week, second week, and so on, paying attention to Advent Sunday, the day when Advent started.
Now in the second half of Advent, and Advent Sunday is forgotten: it is Christmas Day that matters.

Readings and Meditation

[LEFT]Are you surprised to see the relatives of Zechariah and Elizabeth quibble over what to name their newborn child?

Don’t we do the same thing? This child, however has been named from above! And Elizabeth is firm in her faith and determined to see that God be glorified through this child. The name John means …[/LEFT]




• In chapters 1 and 2 of his Gospel, Luke describes the announcement of the birth of two little ones, John and Jesus, who will occupy a very important place in the realization of God’s project. What God begins in the Old Testament, begins to be realized through them.

[quote]This is why, in these two chapters, Luke presents or recalls many facts and persons of the Old Testament and even succeeds in imitating the style of the Old Testament.

And all this in order to suggest that with the birth of these two little boys history completes a round of 180 degrees and the time of the fulfilment of the promises of God begins through John and Jesus, and with the collaboration of their parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah and Mary and Joseph.

• There is a certain parallelism between the announcement and the birth of both children:
a) The announcement of the birth of John (Lk 1, 5-25) and of Jesus (Lk 1, 26-38)
b) The two mothers who are pregnant meet and experience the presence of God (Lk 1, 27-56)
c) The birth of John (Lk 1, 57-58) and of Jesus (Lk 2, 1-20)
d) The circumcision in the community of John (Lk 1, 59-66) and of Jesus (Lk 2, 21-28)
e) The canticle of Zechariah (Lk 1, 67-79) and the canticle of Simeon with the prophecy of Anna (Lk 2, 29-32)
f) The hidden life of John (Lk 1, 80) and of Jesus (Lk 2, 39-52)

• Luke 1, 57-58: Birth of John the Baptist. “The time came for Elizabeth to have her child and she gave birth to a son. When her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had lavished on her his faithful love, they shared her joy”. Like so many women of the Old Testament Elizabeth was sterile: Just like God had pity on Sarah (Gn 16, 1; 17, 17; 18, 12), on Rachel (Gn 29, 31) and on Anna (1 Sm 1, 2.6.11) transforming the sterility into fecundity, in the same way he had pity on Elizabeth and she conceived a son. Elizabeth hid herself during five months. When after, the five months, people could see in her body God’s goodness toward Elizabeth, all rejoiced with her.

This community environment, in which all got involved in the life of others, both in joy as in sorrow, is the environment in which John and Jesus are born, grew and received their formation. Such an environment marks the personality of a person for the whole life;

[quote]* [size=2]and it is precisely this community environment that we lack most today*[/size]



• Luke 1, 59: To give the name on the eighth day. “On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child and they wanted to call him Zechariah as his father”. The involvement of the community in the life of the family of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John is such that the relatives and neighbours even want to interfere in the choice of the name of the child. They want to give the child the name of his father: Zechariah!” Zechariah means: God has remembered. Perhaps they wanted to express their gratitude to God for having remembered Elizabeth and Zechariah and for having given them a son in their old age.
• Luke 1, 60-63: His name is John! Elizabeth intervenes and she does not permit the relatives to take care of the question of the name. Recalling the announcement of the name made by the angel to Zechariah (Lk 1, 13), Elizabeth says: "No! He will be called John”.



Continued from Previous Post:…
In a very small place such as Ain Karem, in Judah, the social control is very strong. And when a person gets out of the normal usage of the place, she is criticized. Elizabeth does not follow the usage of the place and chooses a name outside the normal models. This is why the relatives and neighbours complain saying: “No one in your family has that name!” The relatives do not easily give in and make signs to the father to know from him what name he wants for his son. Zechariah asks for a writing tablet and writes: "His name is John”. All remained astonished because they must have perceived something of the mystery of God which surrounds the birth of the little child.
And this perception which people have of the mystery of God present in the common facts of life, Luke wants to communicate it to us, his readers. In his way of describing the events, Luke is not like a photographer who only registers what the eyes can see. He is like a person who uses the X-Ray which registers what the human eye cannot see. Luke reads the facts with the X-Rays of faith which reveals what the human eye cannot perceive.
• Luke 1, 64-66: The news of the child is diffused. “All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judah. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts: What will this child turn out to be? They wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him”. The way in which Luke describes the facts recalls the circumstances of the birth of the persons who in the Old Testament had an important role in the realization of God’s project and whose childhood seemed already to be marked by the privileged destiny which they would have: Moses (Ex 2, 1-10), Samson (Jg 13, 1-4 and 13, 24-25), Samuel (1 Sm 1, 13-28 and 2, 11).
• In the writings of Luke we find many references to the Old Testament. In fact, the first two chapters of his Gospel are not stories in the sense which we, today, give to the story. They are rather, a mirror to help the readers to discover that John and Jesus came to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament. Luke wants to show that God, through the two children, came to respond to the most profound aspirations of the human heart. On the one side, Luke shows that the New Testament realizes what the Old Testament prefigured.

[quote]On the other, it shows that the New one exceeds the Old one and does not correspond in everything to what the people of the Old Testament imagined and expected.

In the attitude of Elizabeth and Zechariah, of Mary and Joseph, Luke represents a model of how to convert oneself to believe in the New one which is being reached.



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