Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:5-25
In these final days leading up to Christmas, we hear stories about impossible things happening in the lives of ordinary people. During this season, we hear about the virginal conception of Jesus, angels appearing during the night, and a poor family who narrowly escapes the powerful tyrant Harod. Impossible things are happening everywhere! In today’s Gospel reading, another impossible thing happens: barren Elizabeth becomes pregnant in her old age. The good news of the Advent-Christmas story seems to be that “all things are possible for God.” God interrupts the lives of ordinary folks and does impossible things they never dreamed of.
In a certain way, the Christian is always seeking the impossible. The Christian life is essentially a life animated by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, who does impossible things through us. But the impossible is not at all limited to the miraculous. The Beatitudes, forgiving one’s neighbor, turning the other cheek, total self-sacrifice: these are impossible in the eyes of the world. In fact, these things are impossible without the transformative grace of God – and this is what the Christian life is meant to show. Not drawing any attention to ourselves, our lives are meant to show how great God is. Jesus commands us to do impossible things, so that we might bear witness to God’s power and mercy. How else could we “be perfect as the heavenly father is perfect?” (Matthew 5:48).
A witness such as this begins with faith in God’s ability to do all things. Zachariah did not believe in this good news, and he was made silent as a result. Lack of faith results in silence. If Christians do not believe that God is capable of transforming our reality, then our lives become silent, as it were. If our lives are not transformed by grace, then we don’t have much to say in the end. If we don’t trust in God’s help, our lives won’t witness to anything beyond ourselves. We will be mute rather than proclaiming God’s greatness.
On the other hand, the Gospel portrays silence as a good. After Zachariah disbelieved the angel’s words, silence was not a punishment but a remedy to his disbelief. After nine months Zachariah regained his voice, and he used it to proclaim the power and the faithful love of God (Luke 1:68-79). In his silence, Zachariah was enabled to see God working. Silence can be a remedy for our faith too. Silence is the soil of the Christian life. Regular silence makes us reflective, discerning, and open individuals. If we spend time in prayer daily and open ourselves to God, we will be amazed to see the God of wonders make the impossible become possible in us.
Copyright Karl Romkema, C.S.C.
Karl Romkema, C.S.C., is a seminarian for the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province. Before entering religious life, Karl attended Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford, MI, and is now a Master of Divinity student at the University of Notre Dame.