Thursday, November 13, 2008

Devotional Thoughts for Sunday Nov 16th 2008

Annunciation to Zechariah


The Gospel readings on the Sundays leading up to Christmas help
to prepare the background and context of Christmas. The birth of
St.John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ is also the
preparatory event for the birth of our Lord. God had selected a
dedicated priestly couple to give birth and to nurture that
child. However, the doubtfulness of that priest, the punishment
for that doubt and the faith that was strengthened through that
punishment, form the theme of this week?s Gospel reading.

I would like to present a few thoughts from this passage to
engage our attention.

1. Mutual support and care:
The lack of support in times of need is one of the greatest
shortcomings in today?s world. It is said about Elizabeth and
Zechariah ? ?They both lived good lives in God?s sight and
obeyed fully all the Lords laws and commandments?. Elizabeth was
barren. Yet in Zechariah, we see a husband who did not abandon
his wife because of her shortcomings. On the other hand, in
Elizabeth we see a woman who was the wife of a priest but did
not blame God or her husband?s services to God for her
shortcomings. Their mutual support and care is very evident

The lack of a support system is evident in families and
individuals these days. In the past, both families and
individuals had the support of parents, grandparents, relatives,
friends, the church and their communities. The increasing number
of suicides these days can be attributed to the lack of this
support system. When a wife, husband, children, teachers and the
community are able to come together and provide mutual support
to understand each other?s problems, the individual is able to
overcome problems faced in life. Each of us should be able to
become a unit of this support system.

2. The unbelief of a believer:
Here we see a man who should have been firm in his faith and
lead people towards this faith had momentarily given priority to
his logical thinking. He momentarily forgot about the powerful
miracles in his history that gave elderly Abraham and Sarah a
son and also produced water from a rock. He was not supposed to
do that. Gabriel (man of God) was not able to bear this
unbelief. The unbelief of a believer is not acceptable in the
eyes of God. In today?s world it may be fairly accurate to say
that there are more religious atheists than ever before. The
shifting of churches to shopping centres is an indication of the
Christian?s hollowness. This indicates a priority for the temple
of materialism rather than the temple of God. Which of these is
our centre of worship? In some critical stages of our lives, God
extends his helping hand. Does the thought cross our mind about
whether we should take his hand? Each believer should have in
his or her life, the ability to ?taste and see that the Lord is

3. Unity in prayer:
Today's lifestyle is one that promotes individualistic thinking
and personal space. This type of thinking is visible in all
aspects of life like social, economic, political, cultural etc.
This has now even affected families. Today we can even see a
situation where a son may sit upstairs and email his mother to
bring his meals up. Even is spiritual life, instead of family
prayers, there is a tendency to move towards individual prayers
or even a prayer-less life due to lack of time. Zechariah the
priest and the congregation are praying to God in unison.
?According to the custom followed by the priest, he was chosen
by lot to burn incense on the altar. So he went into the temple
of the lord while the crowd of people outside prayed during the
hour when the incense was burned? (St.Luke 1:11). The fruits of
Zechariah's and the community's prayer are shared by both
parties. A childless couple was blessed with a baby (among all
humans born from a woman, there was no one greater than him -
Luke 7:28). The community got a prophet of justice. Just like
individual prayers are necessary, so too are community prayers
necessary. A community that joins in prayer with the priest, is
what the world needs today. Do we pray for those priests and
high-priests that offer our sacrifices before God? Believers
need to pray that their priests be given strength and guidance
to overcome the many stresses and anxieties that fill their
life. When a priest prays for the community and the community
prays for the priest, the fruits of ?unity of prayer? can be
experienced by all.

From this Gospel reading, may God our Father fill us with strong
faith, mutual love and a mentality of prayer for each other.

Fr.M.D.Varghese Konniyoor

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