Friends, our Gospel today is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, which is thoroughly drenched in Davidic themes from the Old Testament.
The first thing we hear about Zechariah is that he serves as priest in the Jerusalem temple; and David’s dream was to build the temple in which Zechariah serves. While in the sanctuary, Zechariah is visited by the angel Gabriel; and the temple locale and the announcement of the birth of a child against all expectations brings us back to Hannah’s pregnancy, which resulted in the birth of the forerunner to David. Indeed, Elizabeth’s words upon conceiving—“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others”—powerfully evoke Hannah’s frame of mind when she, after many tears and much prayer, finally became pregnant.
What does this have to do with the life of Jesus? From beginning to end of his preaching career, Jesus’s central theme was the arrival of the kingdom of God, which was understood to mean the ingathering of the scattered tribes of Israel. And what becomes eminently clear in all of the Gospels is that this coming together would happen in and through Jesus himself, much as the knitting together of ancient Israel happened in the person of David. Jesus definitively fulfills what David himself left incomplete and unfinished.
Reflect: Zechariah did not believe the angel Gabriel and was struck mute until John’s birth. Compare this scenario to the Annunciation and how Mary reacted to Gabriel’s news. What spiritual lesson can you draw from this comparison?