19 Dec 2019
There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’
The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.
In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.
Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.
Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’
Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.’ Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.
When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’
Worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all commandments and observances of the Lord
It has been 2 years since leaving my corporate job to start something on my own. At times, it has been unnerving, not knowing when I will land the next assignment, or how I am to provide for the family. These difficult times have taught me to rely on His providence completely. The decision 2 years ago was a prompting to do something purposeful; to heed His calling. So, I did the one thing I could during turbulent times, that is, to turn to him fully and completely — “God, this is what you asked of me, so I did and now I look to you to help me through.”
And He did; He saw me through! And continues to do so.
This whole experience taught me to remain faithful and dutiful; remaining faithful to God and His promises, at the same time doing what is required of me at any given moment; this was really the only thing I had control over. No amount of planning or looking into the future nor lamenting on things past helped. On the contrary, I felt more stuck and powerless. When I let go, and let God, miracles happened.
Just as it is written in today’s gospel, both Zechariah and Elizabeth “… were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all commandments and observances of the Lord.” And, in the case of Manoah’s wife in the first reading, there have been accounts of her obedience and faithfulness in the bible as well. In their simple everyday life, through their struggles, their deepest desires were granted while they were dutifully carrying out God’s work. Today’s reading reminds me to stay present and lift up my work daily to Him and to not fret about what is to come, trusting that God’s promises will be fulfilled through me, when the time is right.
Miracles, not just in the bible, are happening around us every day. Do we pay attention to these miracles around us? Do we play our part in our faithfulness and dutifulness and allow God to do His work through us?
(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, it is not always easy to let go of our ego and our tendency to control events, things, or people around us. Help us to stay faithful and dutiful to the work that you have blessed us with this very moment, trusting that you have your divine plan and we are but your instruments. Use us the way you know best, teach us to surrender to the Holy Spirit, to surrender to your Will.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for all the miracles you have worked in our lives. You are the good good Father who always gives us the best, and takes care of us. You know our deepest desires and we know that nothing is impossible with you.