In today's Gospel, we hear about the birth of Jesus's cousin, John the Baptist.
John's parents Elizabeth and Zechariah never expected to have John. To their great sorrow, they were never able to conceive. But then one day the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth was pregnant. Zechariah responded with disbelief, and as Luke tells us, Gabriel then punishes his disbelief by making him mute for the duration of Elizabeth's pregnancy.
Can you imagine this hardship? I find it impossible to stay silent during a two hour movie, yet Zechariah couldn't speak for nine months.
Thankfully, in today's Gospel, Zechariah's "punishment" ends after John's birth. How does he respond to his new ability to speak? With one of the greatest anthems of praise in the entire Bible: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, he has come to his people and set them free!
Though Gabriel pronounced silence as the sentence for John's skepticism, it was actually a gift from God. In nine months of silence, Zechariah gave birth to the dreams that God had for him and his people. He was able to see clearly that the God who gave him John was to give the entire world a Savior to set them free.
In these final hours before Christmas, can you allow yourself a few moments of silence? What is God trying to bring to birth to you in the silence? In what ways will he liberate you this Christmas season?