In God’s Good Time

Luke 1: 5-25
Jgs 13:2-7,24-25a / Ps 71

So has the Lord done for me at a time He has seen fit…
(Luke 1:25)

God’s kindness we must never doubt,
He answers prayers in His time.
Have faith that it will all work out;
He only has our best in mind.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah. Both he and his wife Elizabeth were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s decrees and commands diligently. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” (Luke 1:5-25)

Reflection

The priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth both led righteous lives, blameless in all their deeds, observing all the commandments of the Lord. But they were childless, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both already advanced in years. Then one day, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple and told him that their prayers had been answered. Nothing escapes the attention of the Lord – no prayer is left unanswered. Everything will unravel at the time He sees fit. Perhaps Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a son for a long time since they were young. But the coming of their son, John, must be timed to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, so the answer to their prayers had to wait until the appropriate time.

Advent is the season of expectation, a time of hope for good things to come. Today’s Gospel reading teaches us the importance of trusting in God that He will provide the things we hope for at the proper time. It may have seemed like an “endless advent” for Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who had both aged past the years of procreation, but as the angel Gabriel proved to them, nothing is impossible with God.

One of the things that most people hate is waiting. But waiting is an inevitable and common circumstance in daily living. We wait in line at the store register or movie counter; we wait for the traffic light to change to green; we control our emotions waiting for someone who is late for our appointment; we fret and fidget as we wait for a scheduled flight that has been delayed. In fact, most times I’ve had to wait for the Holy Spirit to give the inspiration to write a Gospel reflection. But we must never let our waiting affect our good disposition by becoming impatient or recriminating. Such was probably the case with Zechariah, who had already given up hope of ever becoming a father, when he replied to the angelic messenger, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is (already) advanced in years.” (Lk.1:18) (Like saying, probably with an edge in his voice, ‘Why tell me now, after making us wait for so long?’) Thus he was rendered speechless for nine months. He should have been so grateful instead. To be the parents of John the Baptist was surely worth the long wait.

It’s barely a week before our waiting is over and we celebrate the birth of our Savior. May our waiting teach us to be more patient, generous, courteous, and forgiving. And most of all, may we always trust God that He will deliver what we hope for in His own good time, so that we can wait in expectant joy in the true spirit of Advent.

In You, Lord God, we put our trust, confident that all Your promises will be fulfilled. Your Word is our firm foundation, and in the Gospel may we always abide. Amen.

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