It’s finals week here at Creighton as I write this. So, in
the midst of correcting lots of papers and exams, I am definitely
“in a mood.”
I don’t mean to be impertinent, but I have a couple of questions
about this gospel passage. The whole passage seems like a mishmash
of miscommunication. It does turn out for the good finally, though.
But, let’s just notice some things together, eh?
Gabriel announces to Zechariah, an old man with an elderly wife,
that his prayers have been answered. First off, how many elderly
folks do you know who pray for children? They all have these bumper
stickers that say, “If I would have known how much fun grandchildren
were, we would have had them FIRST!” So, I wonder why Zechariah
didn’t say, “Look, where were you twenty years ago when
we really were praying for a child? What took you so long?”
What it looks like is that either Gabriel got delayed somehow by
a couple of decades. Or, God misplaced the divine Planner for a
few days and forgot to send Gabriel until this moment.
Next, why was Gabriel so upset at Zechariah’s words? Why did
he make “Z” mute for nine months? He let Mary off the
hook, didn’t he, when she asked him questions? I have never
understood this part and I still don’t get it.
What sort of workman’s comp did the Temple have? I mean, this
elderly priest goes mute and still has to finish out his days of
ministry, for goodness’ sake! Couldn’t the Temple infirmary
send him home with a note? “He can’t talk. He had a
vision. Let him go home to his wife.” But, noooooo!
The final odd note that Luke strikes here has to do with Elizabeth’s
reaction to this whole deal. She goes into seclusion and yet announces,
“God has taken away her disgrace.” I would have thought
that such a blessing would be cause for praise and festivity and
celebration. Why hide like this?
Even though these are serious questions I have about the gospel
passage, I really meant all this in a spirit of fun. Or, perhaps
this reflects my mood as I write this in the midst of finals week!
So, finally, what this whole deal seems like to me is that God’s
work in and through Mary was so theologically spectacular that even
the precursor and his parents had to be taken off stage the moment
they appear. Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John certainly are “players,”
but not the main ones. God’s work prepares the Way and then
offers the Gift.
In all this, that’s what I invite you to consider this Advent,
how God prepares the Way and offers the Gift over and over again.
Perhaps we might attend to this divine preparation in our lives
and in our world so that we might both receive and give great thanks
for the Gift we celebrate this Christmas 2005.
Happy Rest Of Advent.