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Today's Gospel + short theological explanation

Advent: December 19th

Gospel text (Lk 1,5-25): In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah, belonging to the priestly clan of Abiah. Elizabeth, Zechariah's wife, also belonged to a priestly family. Both of them were upright in the eyes of God and lived blamelessly in accordance with all the laws and commands of the Lord, but they had no child. Elizabeth could not have any and now they were both very old.

Now, while Zechariah and those with him were fulfilling their office, it fell to him by lot, according to the custom of the priests, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. At the time of offering incense all the people were praying outside; it was then that an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. On seeing the angel, Zechariah was deeply troubled and fear took hold of him. But the angel said to him, «Don't be afraid, Zechariah, be assured that your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John (…). Zechariah said to the angel, «How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is elderly, too» (…).

Two "announcements": Zechariah and Mary

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, Luke "prepares the ground" to historically frame up the narrative of the incarnation of the Son of God. In addition first to a chronological aspect ("in the days of Herod"), his Gospel begins by recounting the origins of the Baptist, the immediate precursor of Jesus Christ. Both are conceived through divine intervention, after a special announcement whose presenter is the Archangel Gabriel.

The similarity between the two "Announcements” will help to bring out, by contrast, the fullness of grace in Mary and His divinity, in Jesus. Given the magnitude of the announcement and its circumstances, it is surprising that Zechariah demands a proof to the Archangel. Mary, instead, six months later, will not do it. Consequently, during the Visitation, Elizabeth —Zechariah's wife and mother of the yet unborn Baptist— will address to Mary the first beatitude of the Gospel: "Blessed are you who has believed" (Lk 1:45). Mary is the quintessential believer, the pure and perfect faithful.

—Although the Angel will not visibly manifest himself into my "home", God has for me a project. Mary, help me listen to him confidently.