Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the Sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense, all the people were praying outside; it was then, that an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him.
But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will bring joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth.
This son of yours will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Listen: he shall never drink wine or strong drink; but he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. Through him, many of the people of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. He, himself, will open the way to the Lord, with the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah; he will reconcile fathers and children; and lead the disobedient to wisdom and righteousness, in order to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is elderly, too.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel, who stands before God; and I am the one sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news! My words will come true in their time. But you would not believe; and now, you will be silent and unable to speak until this has happened.”
Meanwhile, the people waited for Zechariah; and they were surprised that he delayed so long in the Sanctuary. When he finally appeared, he could not speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the Sanctuary. He remained dumb and made signs to them.
When his time of service was completed, Zechariah returned home; and, some time later, Elizabeth became pregnant. For five months she kept to herself, remaining at home, and thinking, “This, for me, is the Lord’s doing! This is his time for mercy, and for taking away my public disgrace.”
A family of 12, one member can easily be forgotten of busy parents. A child‘s request is sometimes unintentionally neglected or confused with the request of another child. For God, it is not so. He never forgets anyone and his promise to each one. In today‘s gospel, God is fulfilling His promise to Zechariah. The promised son, the forerunner of the Redeemer is announced by the Angel.
The fulfilment of God‘s promise to man is also conditioned by man‘s life. Zechariah and Elizabeth “were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.“ They persevered in prayer. Thus, the angel Gabriel addressed them; “Do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard.“ “Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son and you shall name him John.“ God granted their request in his time and due to the righteousness of the couple and perseverance in prayer.
Let us learn to trust God completely and never doubt his faithfulness. Many times God surprises. And like Zechariah who thought the words of the Angel was “too good to be true.“
Doubt in God displeases Him. It will not bring good. Lord increase our faith that we may not doubt but believe.