April 23

Luke 1:13-15 13But 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. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for 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

Luke was the only Gospel writer who was not an eyewitness to the events. It seems that many of his accounts came from Mary and the other disciples. His Gospel is one of the three synoptics, Matthew and Mark being the other two. They cover many of the same stories. He tells in much greater detail the events that surround the birth of Jesus, including this story of John the Baptist's birth.

In that age and culture, it was a great shame for a woman to be childless. It was as if their purpose in life had not been accomplished. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were getting up in years. Zechariah was a priest who served in the Temple. His name had been drawn for this special service of burning the incense in the Holy Place. The other priests would have moved to the outer court to wait for the smoke to ascend. It represented the prayers of the people. There, in the Holy Place, the angel Gabriel appeared. The familiar greeting is given, "Do not be afraid." The angel announced that his prayer has been heard, and that they would have a very special child. This child would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He would have the specific task of preparing the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah. He would be instrumental in turning the hearts of many back to the Lord. Zechariah had trouble believing it was even possible at their age. The angel gave him the sign to verify it. Zechariah became unable to speak because of his refusal to believe the messenger.

We come with our petitions to the Lord, but when some answers are delayed in coming, we lose faith. We are still praying, but we don't expect it is even possible. With God all things are possible. Don't give up hope, but pray with expectation. John's birth was all the more joyous because it came when they thought it was impossible.

Remember: Believe the word God sends to you.