AD SENSE

Advent, 19th December, Saturday

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 / Luke 1:5-25

A barren woman conceives: Samson is born.

Certain Old Testament persons and events bear a striking similarity to certain New Testament persons and events. Paul calls the similarities types. (Romans 5:14,nab) Jesus referred to these similarities when he compared his body on the cross to the serpent on a pole that Moses lifted up in the desert.

(Numbers 21:6-9) As people bitten by serpents were healed when they looked upon the serpent, so people wounded by sin were healed when they looked upon Jesus. Samson’s and John’s births, in today’s readings, bear a striking similarity to Jesus’ birth. An angel foretold the births of both men. The mothers of both men didn’t see how they could bear a son in their condition.

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How great is our faith that the power of God can accomplish whatever he wishes? “[The Gospel] is the power of God leading everyone who believes in it to salvation.” Romans 1:16 (NAB)

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  People chosen by God for a special mission in his plan of salvation are constantly presented in the Bible as chosen and loved before birth, with their birth announced in a special way; they are moved by the Spirit of God; their mission demands sacrifices. Witness the call of Samson in his folkloric saga, or that of John the Baptist. The silence of Zechariah comes probably from the joy of an overwhelming message, too great to be put into words.

Underlying these vocation stories is that people are weak, that salvation is gratuitously given by God, that barrenness (the barren women) gives way to fertility, that sacrifices are demanded. And so, people are to be moved by the Spirit of God. All this holds true also for us as we are called to prepare the way of the Lord.

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In the two readings of today, there is a tone of an initial misfortune. A married couple having no children was an embarrassment to society at that time, and some people may even think that the couple is under some kind of curse. The couple themselves would feel ashamed that they have no descendants, because the family line would be terminated. But for the two couples in today's readings, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Manoah and his wife, they were blessed for their faithfulness to each other and to God. Because for the Jewish people at that time, being barren or sterile could be grounds for divorce. Also the unfortunate couple would be subjected to slanting looks and wagging tongues that poke and cut till they wilt and fade and eventually they will separate.

 Yet the two couples remained together, enduring the embarrassment and the shame, and enduring it together.  But God blessed them with sons who would become famous men in bible history.  Which makes us call to mind the times when we experienced misfortune and embarrassment and even shame.  Did we still believed that God did not abandon us, and did we still remain faithful to Him? When we have survived those moments, then we will know this for sure: When we abandon ourselves to God, God will not abandon us. 

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Opening Prayer

Lord, mighty God, no angel announced our birth, but we know that you loved us, even before we were born, and that you call us to prepare the fuller coming of your Son among people.  Reveal your strength in our weakness, keep us hoping in your future, that we may overcome all obstacles to establish the kingdom of Jesus Christ, our Lord.