Zechariah’s words in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:67-79) should grab our attention in a special way. Consider how he had been pondering his encounter with the angel for the last nine months (or more). How earnestly he must have wished to convey what was in his overflowing heart! He had much time to prepare for he knew that the day would come when he could pour out what had welled up in his innermost being (remember what the angel told him in the sanctuary: “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place” [Lk 1:20]).
Here is what Zechariah tel\ls us the Lord God has done: “he has visited and brought redemption to his people” (v. 68). And what about the mission of John, his newborn son: “you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (v. 76). How will this be done? That’s where the headline comes in. And John certainly lived this message in his ministry. Luke’s introduction of John’s public ministry describes him “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (3:3). Moreover, John’s first recorded words in the New Testament are “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 3:2)
So far, so good. But why this approach? John uses a stark message that cuts right to the heart. No kumbaya moment here. Let’s look again to the headline. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Zechariah gives the program that God has set for John: John is to “prepare [the Lord’s] ways” (v. 76). What ways? The ways of salvation of the one who saves: the Savior, Jesus Christ. How does one see clearly those ways? By overcoming sin, which obscures the truth. What was the case then is the case now. We can only see clearly the Lord’s will for us (“[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” [1 Tim 2:4]) if we eliminate sin from our lives. As is inevitable in our fallen state, sin abounds in us. But “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20). What is the ordinary means to access this grace? The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession). By all means, we should ask the Lord often to forgive us in prayer. But Jesus instituted Confession because we need Confession (read all about it in CCC 1422-1498). Take advantage often (St. John Paul II recommended monthly) of the opportunity to audibly here Christ, through the priest acting in His person, the beautiful words “I absolve you from your sins.”
MORE ON VACCINES
Two more articles on the morality of vaccines. Both are well worth reading as the commentary on this matter continues to increase as the debate intensifies.
* The Morality of the COVID-19 Vaccines by Janet Smith
* 12 Things Less Remote Cooperation in Evil than COVID Vaccines by Fr. Matthew Schneider
MY LATEST READ TO INCORPORATE AS A DEVOTIONAL
I recently became very interested to find a book that contained sermons from the early Church Fathers that followed the “new” Lectionary used at Mass. The only substantive work I found that does this is The Fathers on the Sunday Gospels edited by Anglican priest Stephen Mark Holmes. I plan to incorporate this into my regular devotional reading each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. It arrived today so I get to start tomorrow! I am very much looking forward to diving in. I’ll let you know how it goes.