Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed throughout their married lives for the Lord to bless them with children. To have those prayers answered when it seemed far too late for them to be fulfilled must have seemed at first like a cruel joke, a message that was too little and too late. We can understand Zechariah’s doubting the angel’s word. Even if Elizabeth bore a child at such an advanced age, he couldn’t imagine seeing that child grow up and fulfill the destiny promised by the angel. In spite of the face that he had been a holy priest all his life, serving daily in the Temple, this promise seemed too far beyond his ability to believe. It may have been a relief for Zechariah and Elizabeth to withdraw from the busyness of Temple life for a time, he in his imposed silence, she in the wonder of the new life growing in her womb. In the face of great mystery, silence might be the only authentic response. And too often the chatter of outsiders and the gossip of those who only half understand what’s going on can be wearing and stressful. We live in a world where the most intimate sides of people’s lives can be broadcast to the world, with or without their consent. We forget that everyone has a right to privacy and personal time away from prying eyes and babbling gossip. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but technology has vastly enlarged the concept of the village gossip. The pain of infertility is something that many people struggle with, often privately and silently. We need to guard against making assumptions (even judgments) about couples with no children. Allow people to share the intimate details of their lives if and when they choose. There are many good and personal reasons for choosing to raise children, just as there here are many other ways to be fruitful and life-giving. Sometimes silence is indeed golden. Read the story of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5–25) and reflect on the many emotions the characters must have experienced. What memories from your own life does this story awaken?
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek
2 thoughts on “God’s Wondrous Deeds”
When I was born, two of my sibings were hoping for a girl. The other two were hoping for a boy. Well, I was born a boy! My sister then asked how God could be so cruel. But I was told that when she saw me, she changed her tune. The other sibling who was hoping to just not be displaced in my mother’s love, well, …we are still not on speaking terms. Jealousy can go a long way, alas. I always was my dad’s favorite to the chagrin of all of my siblings. My mom, on the other hand, tried to treat all of her children equally. She couldn’t understand how my dad favored me over my younger brother, since in her Dutch culture, the youngest is always favored. My dad just favored the weakest, that’s all. He also loved my younger brother. He despised my middle brothers, though, even though he tried to conceal it. My middle brothers still don’t know what my mom told me about what she thought of them before she died, nor am I going to tell them. What for? She despised atheists, hence one of my brothers to this day won’t acknowledge his atheism. The other is an avowed atheist. He knew my mom was going to love all of her children regardless. That’s mothers for you! Now had my mom been a saint, things would have been different. But then again, that’s what purgatory is for, right? And hell? Never mind hell, let’s just focus on doing the best we can in this world. Remember, the greatest gift God has given man is a free will. A free will to either accept or reject Him. We don’t even have to die! We are making those very decisions right here in this world. “May there be peace on earth,” as my mom would always say. Mothers have a way of instilling a sense of calm.
A wonderful reflection! Thank you, Sister.
Your point is well-made. We often need silence–to be alone with God. To speak to Him and have him reply back to us.
Modern times do not allow this with all these “distractions” around us. Free yourself from these chains of distraction!
A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all! Thank you, Lord Jesus, the Creator of all creation–coming to us in our frail form–as a human baby!