Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

+ Lk 1: 5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God,

according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.

Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering,

the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense.

Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,

for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.  He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,

and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.

He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”

And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.

But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.

But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,

“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

Source: New American Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1070 In the New Testament the word “liturgy” refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity. In all of these situations it is a question of the service of God and neighbor. In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one “leitourgos”; she shares in Christ’s priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity):

The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

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