Scripture: Lectionary 201. II Samuel 7:1-5.8-11.16. Psalm 89:2-3,126.96.36.199. Luke 1:67-79
“Guide our feet into the way of peace.” This is the final part of Zechariah’s prayerful psalm or hymn called the Benedictus—the first word of the hymn he proclaims: Blessed be the Lord our God. This peace that is prayed for comes directly from God and is at hand as we approach the feast of Christmas on this last day of Advent. It tells us it is never too late to have the true spirit of Christmas—one of peace, joy, and blessedness.
We celebrated the naming of John the Baptist yesterday. Today we hear the prayer of his father Zechariah which is a song of peace and salvation. There is a definite confidence in the power of God that Zechariah now manifests after being released from his affliction of not being able to speak. He now bursts out in song which we too remember in every Morning Prayer we say in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Peace is one of the gifts and graces we all hope will happen to the whole world and we also want the peace of the Lord to rule our own hearts and bring us to sing of God’s salvation that we enjoy with the birth of Jesus tomorrow. His name Jesus means “God saves” and Zechariah song has many verses that acknowledge the salvation of the Lord within it. Even historically an era of peace was present for a short time under Caesar Augustus, the emperor of the world at that time. We even are familiar with his own expression Pax Romana (Roman Peace).
The Prince of Peace is to be born and it is he who really ushers in the realm of peace both interior and exterior. We believes can trust as Zehariah and Mary have done and sing his praises for the peace that he gives to us at this time of year within our hearts.
Zechariah prophetically has this peace and salvation in mind as he sings of it quite frequently in his Benedictus. He tells us of the salvation being given to us by God. We know that Jesus is that salvation and that his birth is announced with the angels telling us about Peace on earth or Peace to those of good will. Jesus is both Shalom (Peace) and Salvation (Yeshuah). The nature of this type of peace comes in the person of a child who is born to Mary of Nazareth. It is salvation from our sins and the freedom to praise God from the depths of our hearts. John the Baptist was the one who has heralded this peace in the proclamation about making the paths straight for the way of the Lord. This will be seen in the baby born of Mary. The Son of God will come in silence and poverty but with the grace and power to bring about God’s peace.
Our last O Antiphon returns us to God-with us and we can sing it with the familiar “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” God is present among us as our King and Judge and we pray, save us. O Lord our God. Amen.