Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (January 1st, 2015)

January 1st is celebrated as not only the first date of the calendar’s new year, but also by the Church as the Solemnity of the Mother of God.

The Solemnity of the Mother of God refers to one of the great dogmas of the Church’s formal profession of Faith- the child of the Blessed Virgin Mary is God.

Not only is January 1st considered to be New Year’s Day AND the Solemnity of the Mother of God, but it is also acclaimed by the Church to be the World Day of Peace, when prayers for peace are to be offered by the Christian faithful.

As if this all wasn’t enough, January 1st was formally the day on which the Church commemorated the Circumcision of the Lord Jesus. In fact, the Gospel for today mentions that the Lord Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth, thus the Church’s commemoration of this event on the eighth day after the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Both the Old and New Testament testify that it is circumcision that sets one apart as a true Israelite. All Israelite males from time immemorial have been circumcised as a sign, cut into their own flesh, of the covenant that God makes with his people. Thus the practice has divine sanction and bears the weight of divine law.

It is clear from the testimony of the Gospel, that God did not exempt himself from conformity to his own law, and submitted himself to the experience. Testimony that God does not ask us to undergo things that he himself is not willing to experience for himself.

The significance of Christ’s circumcision is actually of great importance.

Remember, the central claim of the Church’s profession of Faith is that God in Christ accepts a human nature and lives a real, human life.

Born into our world, God accepts a particular family and culture as his own and God binds himself to this family and culture in his body and with his blood. God’s identification with Israel is literally cut into the body of his human nature and it goes deeper than the wound of his circumcision and penetrate to the cellular level of his body.

The glorified Body of Christ that we will one see revealed in heaven is the body of an Israelite. Thus, Israel is not rejected or refused by God, but brought to its fulfillment and we see the fulfillment of Israel in the body of the Lord Jesus. God chooses Israel in a way that exceeds all expectations.

Further, resisting our tendencies to reduce Christ to an idea or feeling or story, the circumcision of Christ indicates that the Body of Christ’s human nature is very real indeed. The baby bleeds real human blood. The man would bleed real blood too. The humanity of God in Christ is not a simulation.

And, also, while we might prefer to keep both the Holy Child and the adult Jesus covered up and free of sexuality, Christ, inasmuch as he is fully human, is also fully a man.

Some insist that all this body and blood stuff is a scandal, impossible for God to do and beneath his dignity. The Church insists that this is all in fact what God has done.

The once renowned commentator on the Church’s worship, a man by the name of Pius Parsch, noted that the Circumcision of the Lord is the first sacrifice of our redemption. This is an illuminating way to consider the mystery of Christ, and our relationship to his mysterious revelation.

There is no love in this world without a sacrifice, and it is through sacrifice that our love is proven to be true or false.

We live in a culture that pretends that we can have love without sacrifice, but in this distortion of reality, the risk and reward of true love is extinguished, as well as its power to redeem.

The Incarnation is essentially an act of love, ratifying in that act of love the necessity of sacrifice for love to be true.

We may therefore struggle to live in the illusion of love without sacrifice, but the reality of love will by divine sanction and necessity shatter that illusion.

The Circumcision of Christ is a foreshadowing of a greater act of love, a greater sacrifice that is to come. The greater the love, the greater the sacrifice- and the love of God in Christ is the greatest love of all.

It is wise for us to recall and invoke this love, and its power to redeem and save, on this, the first day of the New Year.



The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas (December 30th, 2014)

Today’s first scripture from the First Letter of John testifies that the Christian must make a clear and unambiguous decision to follow Christ, and that this decision will for Christ will inevitably entail a decision against worldliness and the tempting allurements of wealth, pleasure, power and honors.

This decision has never been easy.

We live in an era where the sharp razor’s edge of the decision for Christ has been dulled by accommodation and inclusivity- and in doing so, we hope to evade the decision that Christ insists that all his disciples must make. The Gospel is clear: we are either for him or against him. We either gather with him or we scatter. There is no safe or easy in between. There is moderation in terms of the practice of the Christian way of life, but the decision for Christ is always extreme and uncompromising.

We can defer the decision for Christ for only so long. Not to decide is to have made our decision, and indecisiveness means no.

There is a legitimate inclusivity to the Church’s Faith, for it seeks the truth and also seeks to draw the whole world into relationship with the Lord Jesus, but there is also a sharp edged, deep cutting, exclusivity to the Church’s Faith as well.   Nowhere else is this exclusivity more evident than in the decision for or against Christ.

Christ makes it very clear what his Church stands for and what it stands against. The Lord who is the bearer of light and truth separates good from evil, and does so sometimes, painfully. No one can faithfully serve two masters, but this is precisely the strategy of worldliness. The truth is not plural, but singular. There is one divine light, and all other lights are either a reflection of Christ’s light or they are counterfeits.

The Christian can serve only one Master, and he is Christ the Lord.

Today’s Gospel presents the witness of the prophetess Anna, who is a representation of the hopes of the Israelites that the divine life and presence of God, that had left his holy temple, would one day return.

Anna sees with her own eyes the return of God’s divine life and presence in Christ.

Do we see the divine life and presence of the Lord and give thanksgiving as Anna did?

The divine life and presence of God in Christ remains with us in the temple of the Church.   Christ makes himself present in the Church’s temple, not simply as an idea in our minds or as feelings in our hearts, but in the new covenant of his Body and his Blood.

It is in the Blessed Sacrament that we see what Anna saw.


Feast of the Holy Family (December 28th, 2014)

Just days ago the Church commemorated with great solemnity an event of such extraordinary significance that it divided history in two. This event was the revelation of God in this world in Jesus Christ.

Unlike previous revelations, God has manifested himself, not in the dreams and visions of the prophets, or in the pages of a holy book, or in myths and legends, or in thunder and the shaking of the earth, but God came to us in such a way that we could meet him person to person and face to face.

God does not desire to be known simply as an idea or as an emotion or have the reality of his existence reduced to speculation and symbolism. God presents himself to us in a manner that we can be in relationship with him.

And thus, God revealed himself as a person, a living divine person, who out of his desire to share a relationship with us, accepted a human nature and lived a real, human life, being born in a particular time, in a particular place and into a particular family. He even gave himself a name, the name of Jesus. The Holy Child of Bethlehem, the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is God- and not an idea about God or a symbol of God, but he is really and truly God.

The birthday of the Lord Jesus was when the world was able to see, for the first time, the face of God. The eternal God entered time and God who is ageless and everlasting became a child.

The Church commemorated the birthday of the Lord Jesus with a day of great celebration called the Christ-Mass. The days and weeks of Advent were all intended to prepare us to participate in the Christ- Mass.

In this Mass, the Church recalled the day of Christ’s birth and then invited us to receive Christ’s divine life and presence given to us in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. In that Sacrament we were able to receive the same divine life and presence of God in Christ that was revealed to the world in the radiant, newborn face of the Christ-child.

In our reception of the Blessed Sacrament the mystery and meaning of the Christ-Mass was fulfilled. God, who in Christ, indicated his desire to us to be in relationship with him and who invited us to receive him, was accepted by us. In the Blessed Sacrament we entered into a relationship with God and Christ. We accepted God’s invitation. Upon our acceptance, the same divine life and presence that entered into the world over two thousand years ago, entered into us.

The Blessed Sacrament, like the Holy Child of Bethlehem, is not a symbol of God, but God himself!

And just as it was over two thousand years ago when the divine life and presence of God in Christ came into the world, those who received Christ and accepted a relationship with Christ, also received a new way of life and accepted that their lives had to change- so did we.

God in Christ does not come into anyone’s life to affirm that person as they are. God in Christ comes into our lives to change us, to transform us, to make us different.

Those of you who accepted a relationship with Christ by receiving the Blessed Sacrament also accepted that your life would be changed, transformed- you accepted that you would, because of your relationship with God in Christ, be different.

If you accepted Holy Communion without the intention of changing your life, you missed the point of what Holy Communion is all about.

Today, the Church commemorates the Feast of the Holy Family.

This is not a celebration of our families, but of God’s Family. Today’s Feast of the Holy Family in intended to deepen our understanding of what precisely God has revealed about himself in Jesus Christ- that he accepted a human nature and lived a real, human life.

God’s acceptance of a human nature was not a ruse. God did not pretend to be human in Christ. God knows for himself the facts of human experience.

God permitted himself to gestate for nine months in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He permitted himself the experience of being born and living as a vulnerable baby, utterly dependent on others to care for him. He permitted himself to be a child and to grow and to learn. He embedded himself in a particular culture. He experienced for himself what it meant to have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and how to make friends. God in Christ experienced the physical transformations of the body of his human nature through puberty.

We do ourselves a great disservice if we sentimentalize or romanticize what God did when in Christ he accepted a human nature. In fact, at times those who oppose our faith that God became a man in Christ are far more perceptive in terms of the implications of our belief than we are. God’s immersion into the raw and real facts of life is as off-putting as it is surprising.

The densely textured reality of the Incarnation of God in Christ is presented to us today in the fact that in Christ, God gives himself a family- not the idea of a family, but a real family that includes a mother, her husband, and everything that comes along with belonging to a family.

Why is this so important?

Because it all effects what the great sages and saints of the Church call a “marvelous exchange”. By “marvelous exchange” is meant that in Christ God accepts something from us so that we can accept something from him.

The way this works in that in accepting a real, human life as his own, God in Christ makes all of human experience a means by which he is in a relationship with us. And no human experience escapes this possibility.

Where is God in our lives? He makes himself present to us in gestation, in birth, in growing up, in growing old, and even in death. The blessings of God inhere, not just in positive experiences, but in the totality of being human. This is the “marvelous exchange”.

It is the great gift that God in Christ gives to us by his acceptance of a human nature and in his willingness to live a real, human life.

Because of Jesus Christ, you have been given a relationship with God, not just in some things, or the things that you like, or in positive emotional experiences, but in all of what it means to be human.

Jesus Christ brings humanity, (that’s all of us!) into a relationship with God.

God, in Christ, inserts himself into the Holy Family so as to insert himself into the human family.

This is why it really burns me that some folks, thinking themselves to be smarter and more important than the revelation of God, assign themselves the task of trying to deliver the Church from its faith in the divinity of the Lord Jesus and insist instead that he is simply a teacher or philosopher or religious celebrity or something else. The excuse is usually given that such efforts render the Lord Jesus more accessible and easier to understand. This isn’t what happens. They make not only the Lord Jesus, but God, more inaccessible and difficult to understand and they end up evacuating from our hearts and minds the greatest consolation and more important revelation God manifests to the world: that God in Christ has become like us, so that we could become like him.

Just a few reflections on the Gospel for today, an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke:

It’s hard to really get this Gospel without the Old Testament reference point that the evangelist Luke has in mind. In the 10th Chapter of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, the prophet has a vision of God’s divine life and presence leaving the temple of Jerusalem. This dramatic event precipitated the destruction of the temple in the year 587 BC by the armies of Babylon.

According to the prophet Ezekiel, the return of the divine life and presence of God to his temple was to be a sign of that God had come into the world to set things right.

All had seemed lost in the year 587 BC and when the Lord God returned to his people, what had been lost would be restored.

That’s the back story in regards to today’s excerpt from the Gospel of Luke. The evangelist Luke is making the point that in Jesus Christ, the divine life and presence of God has returned to his temple, in his return will set in motion events that will lead to the restoration of everything the Israelites had believed they had lost in 587 BC.

Everyone in the story, Christ’s mother, her husband, Simeon and Anna are all “stand ins” for all the faithful Israelites who were desperately waiting for and searching for the return of God’s divine life and presence to his people- the divine life and presence that had left them in 587 BC.

In Christ, they discover that God has returned to his people and taken his place in his sanctuary. The prophecy of Ezekiel has been fulfilled- and in an extraordinary way indeed!

The long, hard years since 587 BC, years of waiting, watching wondering, when God would return to his people have all come to an end. God has arrived. God has returned to his temple. God is here.

Where is God? He reveals himself in the Jesus Christ. How has he returned? He has accepted a human nature and become man.

Now what does any of this have to do with us?

Jesus Christ is the divine life and presence of God who has revealed himself to the world and that revelation has not ceased. The same divine life and presence that took flesh and became man is with us still in the great Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Christ is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Christ is present in his temple. Christ is here. The prophets have been fulfilled. God has returned to his people. God in Christ makes his home among us, and he does so in the new covenant of his Body and his Blood.

You see that gold box.

That gold box is called the tabernacle, a name that is meant as an evocation of the temple- the place where God dwells. I know it seems to some to be little more than a fancy cabinet for left-overs, but what that gold box really and truly is, is the Holy of Holies of the temple of the Church- the temple of God in Christ. It is the place where the divine life and presence of God in Christ resides.

Where is God?

Where can you meet him?

Where can you share communion with his divine life?

Where can you go to have a relationship with him.

He is in this temple.

He is here.


The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Why are we here? Why are you here?

Why are we here, today, in this place, recalling in story and singing the praises of a child born centuries ago in land so far away from our experiences that it might as well be the planet Mars?

I suppose some might be here out of habit or obligation or sentiment, and some here have been compelled against their will. But for many, if not most, we have been drawn here by a greater power, lured by a mysterious story that once you have heard it, places a demand on you to gather here, and listen again, and listen as if you are hearing it for the first time.

The story is about the birth of a child, and not just any child, but a child whose coming was foretold by prophets, announced by angels, and feared by the powers of the world. This child was adored by shepherds, worshipped by magicians, and threatened by tyrants. Though a king, he chose to be born in poverty. Though powerful beyond all reckoning, he manifests himself in weakness. Though the eternal and ageless God, he becomes a child, who will grow into a man.

Yes, though he becomes a child, he is also God and thus in him the eternal enters time, the infinite dwindles into infancy, and God does what should be impossible for God to do- he takes on our flesh, accepting a human nature and in doing so, accepts as his own experience, gestation, birth, death and everything that comes in between.

The story is not like any other, for it is not just a story, but testimony to a revelation of God. What we hear, the revelation that demands our presence and attention, has happened in reality, at a particular place, at a particular time, and to particular people. The God who reveals himself as the child of Bethlehem is not an idea or an emotion, but a living, divine person, a person so real, that he manifests himself, not in myth or in legend, but in history, and he does so in real flesh and in real blood.

This is the great mystery of Christmas, the Christ-Mass that we offer today- the eternal God, in Christ the Lord, accepted a human nature and lived a real human life.

The one, true God, who accomplished this acrobatic feat of leaping from heaven to earth in the revelation of the Holy Child of Bethlehem, manifested that he is not a distant, cosmic force, magnificent in his being, but distant from his creation. Instead, he is God who is with us, and he is with us, not just in some things, but in all things, in all the events and circumstances of our lives, even in our suffering, even in our death- for God has, in Jesus Christ, entered into the fullness of all the facts of our existence.

So many people want God to remain at a distance or doubt he would ever show himself to us! Yet the one, true God, in Christ, comes in close and meets us face to face. The day of Christ’s birth was the day his face was revealed to us for the first time.

God’s revelation in Christ is the reason we are here.

But how can we believe in a revelation such as this?

The reason for our belief is deeper than giving assent to the facts of the story, for the story itself is not simply meant to give us historical facts or biographical details. There is a deeper power at work in the story and that power is the power of God himself. You see, the story is an invitation from God to recognize his own presence in the world and his own presence in your life.

The story of Christ’s birth calls out to you as a word spoken to you from God himself, a word that is an invitation to know him and enter into a relationship with him. That invitation appeared in the world some over two thousand years ago in the manifestation of the Holy Child of Bethlehem, and that same invitation is extended to you right now. You can come to know Christ the Lord and receive him. You can meet him face to face.

Once, he presented himself to the world as a child, and now he presents himself to the world in his Church.

This is why that if we choose to live in a distant relationship with the Church, we are de facto, choosing to live in a distant relationship with Christ. The Church offers us an encounter with Christ that is, in all its challenges, a real relationship to a real, living, divine person.

Alone we might know of Christ, or have an idea of Christ, or even a feeling of Christ, but none of these experiences, good as they might be, suffice to be a relationship with Christ. Relationships are deeper and more demanding. And the best relationships, demand the most from us, and are deeper than the depths of sea. This is what the Church provides us with, the demand and deepening of a relationship with God in Christ.

We are here, therefore, not just to listen to a story of Christ, but to enter into a relationship with him.

This is why this day is called the Christ-Mass, for it is in the Mass that the Lord Jesus offers us a relationship with himself. This invitation is extended to us in the Blessed Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. In this Sacrament, we receive what the world received some two thousand years ago when God revealed that he had, in Christ, accepted a human nature- we receive Jesus Christ.

As real as is the presence of the Holy Child in Bethlehem is the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Two thousand years ago, in Bethlehem of Judea, God invited the world to be in relationship with him as a living, divine person. Today, in this Mass, and in the Blessed Sacrament, he extends to you the same invitation.

What is given to us in the Blessed Sacrament is not just a symbol of Christ, but the living and divine presence of Christ himself- the same living and divine presence who, revealed himself as a child in Bethlehem. Christ is not a symbol of God, but he is God. The Eucharistic Mystery is not a symbol of Christ, it is Christ himself.

What Christ offers to you in the Blessed Sacrament is his life, and in response to this gift, those who receive him have to make a decision: Christ gives his life to me, will I give my life over to him? Christ offers me a relationship, but will I live in such a way that I am truly in a relationship with him? Our reception of the Blessed Sacrament is, like all relationships, deep and demanding.

Now there may be some here, who do not know Christ, or who have become estranged from him, or have become content to remain passive or indifferent to his invitation to know him person to person.

Please know that Christ will not compel you to accept a relationship with him, but if you are here, it is no mere accident, and like those who came to the stable of Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, you might be ready for the story and the songs, but not yet ready to receive him. But the invitation is there, the Church is ready to help you, and Christ promises to receive you when you are ready.

All who accept his invitation also accept that their lives will change. A relationship with Jesus Christ does not just affirm us as we are, but changes us, transforms us, and makes us different. Receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament testifies that you want to change, that you are ready to be transformed and you are willing to be different.

The great revelation of Christmas, of the Christ-Mass, is that in Jesus Christ the manner in which God relates to us and we relate to God has been transformed forever. We can have a relationship with God that is as personal as meeting him person to person and face to face.

The Christ-Mass offers to us, in the Blessed Sacrament, the opportunity to be in relationship with Jesus Christ. But with that opportunity we have to make a decision- whether or not we are willing to accept this relationship or maybe we are not.

And to make that decision might not have been the reason you came here, but it is the reason for which God in Christ brought you here.


Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (December 27th, 2014)

Today the Church celebrates the witness of St. John the Evangelist.

St. John is one of the 12 chosen by the Lord Jesus as an Apostle and is remembered as the author of one of the Church’s Gospels as well as 3 epistles. The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, is also attributed to St. John.

The great legacy of his Apostolic teaching is most certainly his Gospel, so beautiful and majestic, it’s poetry and prose seems to soar like an eagle to the heights of heaven.

The Gospel of John is filled with dramatic events and lengthy discourses. It is mystical testimony to the greatest of Christ’s revelations- that he is God, who in the fullness of time, and in accord with a plan of his own making, became man, and in becoming man, gave himself up as a sacrifice which would reconcile a humanity, indeed all of creation, that had become estranged from God because of sin, death and the devil.

The Gospel of John stands athwart our many attempts to domesticate the Lord Jesus or reduce him to one of any number of religious teachers or philosophers. Instead, the Lord Jesus is someone that is always a sign of contradiction to the categories we would wield against him in order to make him easy and safe. Jesus is God, the divine person in whom the fullness of divinity dwells in communion with the fullness of our humanity. He is like us inasmuch as he is human. He is an absolute mystery to us inasmuch as he is God.

God in the flesh in Christ is the meaning and purpose of our celebrations in the great days of the Christmas Season, and it is this extraordinary revelation that, as St. John the Evangelist testifies, “makes our joy complete”.

The joy that the Christian proclaims in song and story is not just a feeling of good cheer, but testimony that God has in Christ become one like us, and in doing so, has made all things new!

Basildon Park

Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (December 26th, 2014)

The revelation of Christ the Lord at Christmas is not just a matter of his joyous birth, but it is meant to remind of the totality of his Incarnation. This means that the mystery of Christmas is not just that God became a baby, wondrous as this is, but that God, in Christ, entered into the totality of human experience- gestation, birth, death and everything in between.

The descent of God in Christ into our flesh was total and complete.

The holy birth of our Savior is revealed in its fullness in Christ’s willingness to become human and to accept that he would suffer and die.

We should keep this in mind as we recall the on the day following the great solemnity of Christ’s birth, the death of St. Stephen- who was chosen to be the first Christians to die, rather than deny his faith in the Lord Jesus.

St. Stephen is a martyr, and as such he is one of the great witnesses to what faith in the Lord Jesus is all about. We believe not simply in the teachings of Jesus, but in Jesus himself, and our faith in him, that is, our act of trust in him, is that in him is a power that transcends suffering and is greater than death.

St. Stephen gave up his life as testimony to his conviction that for those who are “in Christ”, that is sanctified and redeemed by the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, will experience in death, not an end, but a new kind of beginning- not a locked door, but a route of access to God.

But the affirmation of our faith in Christ’s power to save us from death is not the only lesson that we recall on the Feast of St. Stephen.

We remember not only that St. Stephen died, but the manner in which he died.

Treated unjustly and with abject cruelty, St. Stephen was willing to forgive those who had persecuted and harmed him, and it is his willingness to forgive that displays to us how faith in Christ transforms us, and sets the disciples of the Lord Jesus apart from world.

We are called by the Lord to resist evil, bear witness to the truth, and protect the innocent and vulnerable. But how precisely? The way of a disciple of the Lord Jesus is not one of vengeance and retribution, but of a willingness to forgive.

May St. Stephen intercede for us today, help us to bear witness to Christ’s power to redeem and save, and to give us courage to forgive one another and seek to make amends for the what we have done and what we have failed to do.


Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent (December 24, 2014)

There is a deep mysticism from which of the work of the Church by necessity flows. God in Christ is the revelation of a mystery, a mystery that the Holy Scriptures insist “was hidden from the foundation of the world”. Unless one encounters the mystery of Christ, one will not know Christ- and you cannot become like someone that you do not know.

Knowing Christ is to encounter him in mystery. In another world, our encounter with Christ will be more direct, but in this world, Christ chooses to reveal himself in the foreshadowings of the prophets and through the mediation of the Sacraments, that is, in mysterious realities that resist our attempts to make the Lord Jesus into a mere projection of our opinions, emotions and experiences.

Even for those who knew Christ as he revealed himself in the flesh, found him to be confounding. He was and is mysterious and those who come to know him will be invited to love him, but those who truly love him will never shake the experience of Christ so aptly reported by the eyewitness accounts in the Gospel of Mark, who insisted that in their encounter with Christ, they were “amazed and afraid.”

If our love for Christ is true, we must be willing to accept him in his mystery, and it is only if our love for Christ is true that we will be able to serve him as he wants to be served.

We will be tempted to dispel the mystery of Christ with our desire to control, to insist that our plans take precedence over God’s, and it is precisely this temptation that bedeviled King David in our scripture from the Second Book of Samuel.

King David has grand plans for God and looks to the Lord to sanction those plans. God has other plans in mind and through the prophet Nathan reminds great and mighty King David that he (David) doesn’t give God a mission- God gives David his mission.

King David wanted to give God a temple, but God planned on a temple that would not be built by David himself, but through David’s descendants, and the Lord God would not need David’s wealth and power to build that temple, and he would still build a temple that would exceed David’s plans in a manner that would be absolutely breathtaking.

This temple, the Lord’s temple, would be the body of Christ the Lord.

This body, this temple, would be revealed to David’s descendants for the first time on the day of Christ’s birth. The world would then see the plan that God had in mind.

Several days ago we heard the account of how God, through an angel, informed the priest Zechariah, that he would have a son, and this son had been set apart for an extraordinary mission. Zechariah’s son would be the man we know as John the Baptist.

Zechariah seemed to have other plans, for his response to the angel of the Lord was doubt, rather than acceptance of God’s plan. And rather than praising God for the blessing of a son, Zechariah was rendered mute until the day of his son’s birth. Why did Zechariah doubt? Maybe hearing God’s plan, he was disappointed that it didn’t conform to his own (plan).

And now, today, that blessing deferred by doubt, spills forth in effusive, eloquent words of praise and thanksgiving to God. An act of faith in God’s plan, like first light of dawn, dispels the darkness of Zechariah’s doubts. God’s plan is coming to its fulfillment. God is on his way, soon to be revealed in Christ the Lord, and Zechariah’s son will prepare the Israelites, longing for the advent of Emmanuel, to receive him.

The mystery of God in Christ, hidden from the foundations of the world, the plan of God, will be revealed.

The lesson in all this for us is as intense and off-putting as the mystery of God in Christ. How much of time and effort we expend on our plans?!

But in the end little of it will have mattered if, while in pursuit of the fulfillment of our own plans, we have never even considered that in terms of a plan for our lives, God had something else in mind.