Canticle of Zechariah
Blessed be the Lord, The God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, Born of the house of His servant David.
Through His holy prophets He promised of old That He would save us from our enemies,
From the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers And to remember His holy Covenant.
This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight All the days of our life.
You, My child shall be called The prophet of the Most High, For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our Lord The dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning. is now, and will be forever. Amen.
This gospel reading has become one of the great prayers of the Christian community. The prayer of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is part of the official morning prayer of the church that is prayed in monasteries, convents, parishes, and homes every day.
The prayer opens with a reference to God visiting his people and it closes with reference to the rising Sun coming to visit us from on high, which is a clear reference to the coming of Jesus into the world. When we hear the word ‘visitation’ we tend to think of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, but Zechariah’s prayer suggests that the more fundamental visitation was God’s visit to humanity through Jesus.
God has visited his people in and through the person of his Son, Jesus. There is a powerful depiction of this visitation of God through Jesus in that prayer. This visitation reveals the tender merch of God. Jesus’ coming is spoken of as the rising Sun from on high bringing light to those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death.
The sun is the source of light and life. In an even more fundamental sense, Jesus is the source of light and life, In revealing God’s tender mercy, Jesus brings the light of God’s merciful love into the darkness of our lives and he also offers us a sharing in God’s own life, thereby scattering the shadow which death casts over us.
The true meaning of Christmas is to be found here. In celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are celebrating the coming of God’s light and life, a light which no darkness can overcome and a life that is stronger than all forms of death. Christmas is the feast of Jesus, the light of life. It is a truly hopeful feast because it proclaims that we need no longer remain in darkness or in the shadow of death.
A blessed week to all! Fr. Fidel