The Archangel Gabriel announces the birth of St. John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Piety from the Holy Spirit so he can more fully rely on the protection of the Holy Angels and by building the Virtue of Chastity so he can reject the evil of artificial conception and welcome God’s gift of children.
4th Week of Advent – December 19 – Lk 1:5-25; Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist – June 24 – Vigil – Lk 1:5-17
Despite both Zechariah and Elizabeth being born into the holy lineage of Jewish priests, Zechariah’s diligence in fulfilling his religious duties, and their pursuit of holiness, the elderly Elizabeth was barren throughout her child-bearing years, unable to conceive a child. In the Jewish culture which rejoiced in children and often blamed a person’s sins for barrenness, Elizabeth’s inability to conceive a child was both a heartache and a source of shame.
While it was extremely rare to be called to offer incense and prayers in the inner Temple, the Holiest of Holies, Zechariah is mysteriously chosen by lot to perform the sacred duties. The Archangel Gabriel, one of the seven archangels who minister in the presence of God (Rev 8:2), and who last appeared to Daniel, 600 years earlier to announce the future Messiah (Dan 9:21-27), now again appears to Zechariah in the Temple. Initially full of overwhelming fear by the supernatural grandeur of the Archangel, Zechariah is commanded by Gabriel, to “not be afraid.” Gabriel reveals the couple’s prayers have been heard, and they will bear a son who will announce the arrival of the Messiah in the “spirit and power of Elijah.”
Unlike the Blessed Virgin Mary’s immediate acceptance of Gabriel’s stunning revelation of her Virgin Motherhood, Zechariah is full of doubt; he is immediately struck mute and will remain so until the birth of John the Baptist. Zechariah attempts to explain what has happened and the Jewish worshipers realize he has seen a sign. He returns home, and despite remaining mute, has marital relations with the elderly Elizabeth who miraculously conceives. At long last, Elizabeth rejoices as her shame of barrenness is lifted.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
To build His Holy Catholic Church, Jesus Christ, the Divine King, ensured that an accurate and inspiring record of His infancy would be available throughout the ages. Marvel at how Luke, the physician who accompanied Paul and authored the Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, received detailed accounts of Jesus’ Infancy directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in her later years before The Assumption: marvel at the Blessed Virgin Mary first hand account of Jesus’ miraculous infancy.
Seek the protection of the Holy Angels
Realize: Rather than some strange superstition, the Gospels confirm the existence and activity of angels, including the most awesome of angels, the Archangels; the Holy Angels do the will of God and intercede to help men in the Spiritual Combat.
Believe: Reflect upon the Holy Angels (CCC 57, 326-336, 350-352, 1034, 1352).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Piety so I am guided by You to recognize, honor, and give thanks to God for the Holy Angels, and I regularly seek the protection of the Holy Angels, for me and my family, from the Evil One.
Reject contraception and welcome children
Realize: While Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for a child but had been unable to conceive, today, many think children are a burden and there is widespread use of artificial contraception and sterilization so that men and women can engage in the sexual act but avoid children; artificial contraception and sterilization are “intrinsic evils.”
Believe: Reflect upon Contraception (CCC 2370, 2399); see also the prophetic and beautiful encyclical Humanae Vitae; explore Natural Family Planning.
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Chastity, help me build the Virtue of Chastity (a part of Temperance) so I gratefully receive the blessing of the sexual act in marriage, I reject the use of contraception and I am joyfully open to the great blessing of children.