Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
As we come nearer to Christmas, our Scripture readings point to all the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. In today’s Gospel reading we hear about the birth of John the Baptist. We see that there are miraculous happenings associated with John’s birth. First, there is the angel appearing to Zechariah, with Zechariah made mute because of his doubt. Then we see that Elizabeth, thought to be barren, does conceive. And when John is born, and Zechariah confirms that his name is John, Zechariah’s voice returns, and he begins to praise God.
Of course, all those around Elizabeth and Zechariah are not oblivious to what has gone on, and ask each other, "What then, will this child be?" For, as Luke says, "…surely the hand of the Lord was with him." The circumstances around our birth may not have been as miraculous as those around the Baptist’s birth (although some of us may have a near-miraculous story to tell!), but if we look at our lives, we recognize that the "hand of the Lord" has also been with us. There have been numerous times when God has given us a second or a third or even a tenth chance. There have been other times when God has brought us through some crisis or illness, when we weren’t sure what would happen next. And there are other times when we realize that God was opening the proverbial door for us when another one was closed.
If we acknowledge that God has worked in our lives, we may need to ask ourselves the same question asked about John: "What, then, are we to be?" Are we open to being heralds of Jesus Christ? Are we open to live our lives in such a way that everything about us points to Jesus? The hand of the Lord has indeed been with us. May we proclaim His coming.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Fairfield, Alabama.