So, this was, of course, bound to happen once I took a summer break from offering Sunday prayers over the lectionary readings – – which, by the by, is not a justification of taking the summer off from weekly Mass but a recognition that many change weekly programming in the summer. Anywho, this Sunday, we find that here comes the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.
Which brings me to one of my favorite wall hangings amidst my collection of angels at home. I purchased this in the Holy Land and it is a painted stone in relief image of John the Baptist’s father Zechariah regaining his voice after responding in faith, albeit better late than never. The Gospel reads that “Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” This image suggests that if the angel Gabriel was involved in the removal of Zechariah voice, then the recovery of voice was also angelically induced as well.
And, in my mind, as suggested by the artist, Zechariah’s first utterance came as a response to being goosed by a heavenly entity. WOOOoooOOO!
And, that is my understanding of inspiration as well – a prompt so strongly felt that a spontaneous response just blurts out before we can determine how inappropriate or right it might be. Pentecost was a few weeks back with it’s end of the Gospel’s spiritual tongues of flame… but Zechariah’s beginning of the Gospel’s story of angelic intervention hold just as much of a call to be “light to the nations, (so) that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This Sunday, we won’t run a prayer, but The Canticle of Zechariah, the response of Zechariah, which is edited out of this weekend’s Gospel, might serve…
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.
He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant,
even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies,
without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord – to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.