Good News All the Way
A blog by Rich Harter
Director of Evangelization
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord* to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1: 57-80)
What time zone do you live in? Some of us live in the time zone of the past, unable to let go of painful memories, or just wishing we were still living in the “good old days.” Some of us place our focus on the here and now. We live for today and make the most of what the present has to offer. And some of us orient ourselves to the future and all of its potential problems and possibilities.
But living primarily in one time zone creates a distorted perspective. We see ourselves and the world through a one-third lens, missing the truths, hopes, promises, and blessings that the other time zones have to offer. To put it plainly, we miss God. We miss God because all time belongs to God, and it is in and through time that God comes to visit us. Time is the sacred place where God is at work in our lives.
Zechariah teaches us how to live in the fullness of time. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he remembers how God has fulfilled past promises from Abraham to David to the prophets. He recognizes God working in the present through the gift of his child, John, prophet of the Most high. And he points assuredly to the future Messiah who will come from on high to visit those in the shadow of darkness and death.
For Zechariah, the past, present, and future are filled with the good news that God desires to visit us. God is present in time, calling us into righteous holiness and guiding our feet into the path of peace. Discipleship calls us to live in this same spiritual time zone. Like Zechariah, we need to discover and share the good news of God working in our lives—past, present, and future.
Blessed be the Lord, for God has visited and brought redemption to us!