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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 23.12.2023

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 23.12.2023

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MALACHI 3: 1 – 4; 4: 5 – 6

Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.”

The Word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 25: 4 – 5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14 (R.) Luke 21: 28

R/. Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

O Lord, make me know your ways.
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth, and teach me;
for you are the God of my salvation. R/.

Good and upright is the Lord;
he shows the way to sinners.
He guides the humble in right judgement;
to the humble he teaches his way. R/.

All the Lord’s paths are mercy and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and commands.
The Lord’s secret is for those who fear him;
to them he reveals his covenant. R/.

ALLELUIA

Alleluia. Alleluia.
Come, O King of the nations and cornerstone of the Church! Come and save man, whom you formed from the clay of the earth.
Alleluia.

GOSPEL
The birth of John the Baptist.
LUKE 1: 57 – 66

The time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marvelled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbours. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

The Gospel of the Lord.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Zechariah’s Victory


Saturday, December 23, 2023

Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. (Luke 1:64)

This line reveals the happy conclusion to Zechariah’s initial failure to believe in what God revealed to him. Recall that nine months earlier, as Zechariah was fulfilling his priestly duty of offering sacrifice within the Holy of Holies in the Temple, he received a visit from the glorious Archangel Gabriel, who stands before God. Gabriel revealed to Zechariah the good news that his wife would conceive in her old age and that this child would be the one to prepare the people of Israel for the coming Messiah. What an incredible privilege that would have been! But Zechariah disbelieved. And as a result, the Archangel struck him mute for the nine months of his wife’s pregnancy.

The punishments of the Lord are always gifts of His grace. Zechariah was not punished out of spite, or for punitive reasons. Instead, this punishment was more like a penance. He was given the humbling penance of losing his ability to speak for nine months for a good reason. It appears as if God knew that Zechariah needed nine months to silently reflect upon what the Archangel had said. He needed nine months to ponder his wife’s miraculous pregnancy. And he needed nine months to ponder who this child would be. And those nine months produced the desired effect of a full conversion of heart.

After the child was born, it was expected that this firstborn son would be named after the father, Zechariah. But the Archangel had told Zechariah that the child was to be named John. Therefore, on the eighth day, the day of his son’s circumcision when he was presented to the Lord, Zechariah wrote on a tablet that the baby’s name was John. This was an act of faith and a sign that he had fully turned from disbelief to belief. And it was this act of faith that undid his prior doubt.

Every one of our lives will be marked by failures to believe on the deepest level of faith. For that reason, Zechariah is a model for us of how we are to deal with our failures. We deal with them by allowing the consequences of past failures to change us for the good. We learn from our mistakes and move forward with new resolutions. This is what Zechariah did, and this is what we must do if we wish to learn from his good example.

Reflect, today, upon any sin you have committed that has had painful consequences in your life. As you ponder that sin, the real question is where you go from here. Do you allow that past sin, or lack of faith, to dominate and control your life? Or do you use your past failures to make new resolutions and decisions for the future so as to learn from your mistakes? It takes courage, humility and strength to imitate the example of Zechariah. Seek to bring these virtues into your life this day.

PRAYER
Lord, I know I lack faith in my life. I fail to believe all that You speak to me. As a result, I often fail to put Your words into action. Dear Lord, when I suffer as a result of my weakness, help me to know that this and all suffering can result in giving glory to You if I renew my faith. Help me, like Zechariah, to return to You always, and use me as an instrument of Your manifest glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

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