Introductory Prayer: Grant me the grace to make the most of this time of anticipation for your arrival at Christmas, Lord. My faith rests in you, my hope looks toward spending eternity with you. Help me grasp the value of time in the face of eternity.
Petition: Lord, help me to see the signs that you send into my life.
1. Seeing, yet Disbelieving: Zechariah had no excuse for doubting. There he was: in the sanctuary of the Lord, burning incense ― a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a privileged moment, a sacred space. Even an angel appears! If ever a man should have been prepared for a special message, it was Zechariah. Yet he doubts. He doesn’t believe. He had followed "all the commandments," yet his fidelity didn’t translate into a living faith at a crucial moment. Do we fall into the same trap? We say many prayers, but react with skepticism when God has a special request. Why is that? Are we trying to show love when we pray? Or are we just rattling on?
2. Excuses, Excuses: Zechariah thought his age would hinder God’s plan. He underestimated God’s power. Indeed, it is not God who is limited; rather, we are the ones who limit God, so to speak. Throughout the Bible, God called on unlikely people. Moses probably stuttered (cf. Exodus 4:10). Jeremiah was "too young" (Jeremiah 1:6). Peter was uneducated (Acts 4:13). Saul of Tarsus hated Christians (cf. Acts 9:1). All were unlikely prophets or apostles ― yet they let God use them. What’s my excuse for saying no to God? Am I too busy? Too old? Too young? Too unworthy? Could God be calling me to do something that I think is beyond my capability?
3. Plowing Ahead: God goes ahead with his plan despite Zechariah’s lack of faith. The Almighty was anxious to raise up a fitting herald (St. John the Baptist) for his Son. So he left Zechariah speechless for a time. We shouldn’t be surprised if God plows ahead with his own plans in our lives, even when we resist him. He might do something unusual in our lives in order to keep his plans advancing. Could those setbacks really be God’s hand at work? Might he be preparing us for something better?
Conversation with Christ: I like to think that I’m less stubborn than Zechariah, Lord. But sometimes it is hard to accept your will. I might even feel as if I have "missed the boat," and that you are no longer interested in me. Help me reject this kind of thinking and to have confidence in you.
Resolution: I will pray a Hail Mary for the ability to say “yes” to God’s plans in my life.