SERMON OF THE WEEK
Next Sunday is commemorated as the day when the birth of John the Baptist is announced to Zachariah by Angel Gabriel.
Theme: "Nothing will be impossible for God.
Gospel Reading: (Luke 1:5-25)
*5 In the time of Herod king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
*6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God,
observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly.
*7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they
were both well along in years.
*8 Once when Zechariah's division was
on duty and he was serving as priest before God,
*9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
*10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
*11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
*12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
*13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah;
your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.
*14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
*15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
*16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
*17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
*18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
*19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of
God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
*20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
*21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.
*22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
*23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home.
*24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.
*25 The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."
(Angel Gabriel appears to Zachariah)
In the land of Israel about two thousand years ago at the time of
King Herod, a priest by the name Zachariah lived there with his wife
Elizabeth. They were married for a long time but didn't have any children.
Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments without blame.
One day as Zachariah was praying in the Temple where he was serving
as a priest, an angel appeared and said, "Do not be afraid, Zachariah; your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John." Then Zachariah asked the angel, "How can it happen? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to tell you this good news. And because you did not believe my words, you will remain silent and not be able to speak until the day it happens."
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and wondered why he
stayed so long inside the Temple. When he came out, he could not speak.
He kept making signs to the worshipers and remained unable to speak.
After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months they both remained in seclusion. She said, "The Lord has done this for us. "
The story teaches that believing in God will guide us to many possible impossibilities. It will make us stronger.
At the end of the story, Elizabeth's child is born. The neighbors and
friends wanted their son's name to be Zachariah. But Elizabeth said they are going to call him John because that's what God told them through the messenger. The tongue-tied Zachariah wrote on a tablet, "His name is John"
Zachariah couples believed that nothing was impossible for God. They had the courage to do what God wanted them do.
If we also trust in God and do things His way, then God will give us the strength to heal our broken life. If God wants to give us a gift, just wait for that. Believe in it. It will come. It will be ours. Nothing will be impossible for God.
According to Jewish historians, John the Baptist was a Jewish
preacher in the time of Pontius Pilate. John called on the people to
repentance and to a renewal of their Covenant relation with God.
He was imprisoned and eventually put to death by Herod Antipas,
son of Pontius Pilate, for denouncing Herod's marriage to Herodias,
the wife of his still living brother Phillip. In order to marry Herodias, Herod divorced his fist wife who was the daughter of King Aretas of Damascus. Aretas subsequently made war on Herod which was
regarded by many devout Jews as a punishment for Herod murdering
John the Baptist.
After John the Baptist had reached adulthood, he spent much of his
time in the wilderness. He preached and baptized besides the Jordan
river in the wilderness. He called on his hearers to repent their sins, be baptized, changes in their lives, and prepare for the coming the Kingdom of God. He spoke of one greater than himself who was to
come after. Jesus came to be baptized, and john told his disciples,
"This is the man I spoke of. My mission is to proclaim Jesus as Christ.
He must increase, and I must decrease."
John represents the climax of a long tradition of Jewish prophets looking forward to the promised Messiah. He lived in the wilderness, a life with no frills, when food and clothing are concerned. He had renounced the joys of family life and dedicated completely to the mission of preaching, of calling people to an observance the law, to the ordinary standards of virtue. He represented the Law at that time.
Prepared by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil