The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Abraham Borja SVD (Jerusalem)
December 24 / Octave before Christmas
Photo: Nativity Scene, St Michael the Archangel Parish, Irosin, Sorsogon
The Song of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-79) expresses the saving act of the merciful God in Israel’s history: God’s visit has brought salvation to his people. In Luke’s Gospel, the word “salvation” (Gk sōtēria) appears only four times – three from Zechariah and one from Jesus.
Horn of salvation. Horn symbolizes strength. What God had promised to Abraham (Gen 22:16-18), which he reiterated to David (2 Sam 7:8-12), was fulfilled at the appointed time. The horn raised by God from the house of David is the Savior, the Messiah.
Salvation from enemies and haters. This refers to corporal deliverance from visible threats and physical dangers by foreign nations that attacked and subjugated Israel. Independence from these forces paved the way for Israel to worship God in holiness and righteousness.
Salvation through forgiveness of sins. Sin is a great spiritual threat. It is deadly, and it corrupts the soul. Through repentance and reparations, God bestows grace. When Zacchaeus promised Jesus to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times anyone he defrauded, Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house…[T]he Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost” (Lk 19:8-9).
Zechariah’s song allows us to hear and see certain aspects and progress of events through God’s interventions in the history of salvation – from the promise of salvation to its fulfillment and from physical deliverance to spiritual salvation.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember that the birth of Jesus is about the Son of God visiting and seeking us, sinful people, and bringing salvation to humanity. The manger at Christmas anticipates the cross at Calvary. The humble place where he was born foresees the humiliating manner by which he was put to death to save us from eternal damnation. Let the birth of our Savior be the real reason for our delight and rejoicing this season.
In thanksgiving, we can visit the Blessed Sacrament, pause for some moments of silence, whisper happy birthday Jesus, and say thank you for coming and saving us!