Homily for Dec. 24, Mass in the Morning
The Canticle of Zechariah, which is our Gospel reading today, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful passages in the Gospels, both for its poetic beauty of expression and for the content. In conjunction with the other readings today it gives a very clear message: God is the Lord of history who has the power to do whatever He desires. And what He desires is to watch over us and save us from the despair of sin and death, and enlighten us with His love and mercy, guiding us in the path of righteousness that leads to peace with God and with each other. God has promised this, and He is faithful.
Zechariah did not see all of this come to fruition, but he saw it starting to happen before his own eyes with the birth of his son, John the Baptist. That is all he needed in order to proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of God; and the train of future events proved his trust well-founded. Jesus the Lord was born in Bethlehem, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. He redeemed us and gave us the spiritual means to transcend any danger or suffering the world can offer; a salvation that nothing can take away from us unless we willingly allow it.
Tonight, after four weeks of Advent, we begin to celebrate fully the birth of Christ. Let us prepare for that moment with hearts full of joy and gratitude, knowing that as the liturgy helps us relive that moment, “in the tender compassion of our God 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.”