“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

Only Luke (1:5-25) tells the story of the annunciation of John the Baptist’s conception, beginning his gospel with details of the event.  Zechariah, a priest, was chosen to burn incense in the temple sanctuary.  During the ceremony he is visited by the angel Gabriel.  The celestial being tells him that the prayers of he and his wife have been heard and they are to have a child (to be named John) despite their advanced years.  The child will prepare the people and bring many to the Lord.  Zechariah wonders how this can happen since his wife, Elizabeth, is beyond childbearing age.  Gabriel reproves him for his doubt and strikes him mute until the child is born.  Zechariah comes out unable to speak so the crowd knows he had a vision.  When Elizabeth conceives a child she is compelled to say the words above.  Now we know that it is no disgrace if, through no fault of their own, a husband and wife cannot conceive a child.  In fact, like with Elizabeth and Zechariah, the Lord likely has something special in mind for those in this state who remain faithful.  True disgrace, on the other hand, comes with sin.  Dis-grace.  Any sin diminishes the life of grace in us.  The holy couple of this gospel are described as “righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly” (v. 6).  Would it be that the same be attributed to us.  Let us be completely open to God’s grace (Mary, the perfect human person, is our exemplar) by eliminating sin in our lives through regular prayer, spiritual direction (with a person, through reading, or ideally both), and frequent recourse to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.

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