Fourth Thursday of Advent

December 24, 2020

First Reading 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16
Gospel Luke 1:67-79

Artwork by Maggie L. | Class of 2022

As a child growing up in New York City, Christmas Eve in my family was marked with a great deal of anticipation and excitement. Having attended Catholic school since kindergarten, the celebration of Advent played a prominent role in my childhood – from daily reminders about the nature and meaning of Christmas, to preparations for our annual Christmas concert in the parish Church, to our lighting of the Advent wreath before meals at our dinner table.

But, like most kids my age, the messages about preparing for the coming of the Lord and the promise of salvation resonated less than the discussions about what might be waiting under the Christmas tree in a few short weeks for me and my friends.

While many of those hotly anticipated gifts have faded into the recesses of my memory, I can recall the emotions much more readily – the anticipation turning to joy (or occasional disappointment); the appreciation for the effort my parents put into trying to maintain the magic of Christmas in a small three room apartment in the face of extremely curious children; and the love on display that might not always have been recognizable at other points in the year.

In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, we are presented with the Benedictus by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. In this canticle, we find a father who is filled with joy at the prospect that the promise of a messiah is about to be fulfilled. Moreover, his son, John, will play a critical role in preparing them for the coming of Jesus and the opportunity for salvation through the forgiveness of our sins.

As I read the Benedictus again, with eyes seasoned by fatherhood, I tapped into that childlike emotion from years ago, and found myself connected to Zechariah in ways I have not before - the joy of a promise fulfilled, the expectant pride of a father, and a reminder that a new dawn is on the horizon.

By Matthew Mohs