God’s Promise Is Fulfilled
December 24th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent Mass in the Morning
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for 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 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 hand 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 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.
Today is the eve of Christ’s Nativity. At midnight tonight, over two thousand years ago, God’s promise to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise was fulfilled. The fullness of time had come, and His Son was born to redeem the human race.
Our Gospel today is the Canticle of Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist. Zechariah had doubted the words of the angel who foretold John’s birth, so he was consequently struck mute until his son was born. This canticle was his prayer of thanksgiving at John’s circumcision. Zechariah recognized that all of God’s promises throughout the Old Testament were about to be fulfilled in the Redeemer, and his heart overflowed with joy.
Tonight, we commemorate the same promise that was fulfilled so many years ago — the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came to give His life for the sins of the world. In the midst of all our celebrations, we sometimes forget the true reason for our joy. The Church gives us Zechariah’s canticle this morning as a reminder of the joy we should have at the Birth of Christ. Jesus was born so that each of us might be able to attain eternal life. This is truly the greatest gift of Christmas!
I once read a short but powerful reflection on the reception of Holy Communion at Christmastime. Receiving Holy Communion is very much like the Nativity, for Jesus physically comes to us in the Holy Eucharist just as He came to the shepherds in the manger in Bethlehem. May Zechariah’s canticle this morning help fill us with joy at the true miracle of Christmas, and may we joyfully greet our newborn Saviour in the Holy Eucharist this Christmas and always.
Merry Christmas, everyone!