We often read the scripture in Luke about the visit that the angel Gabriel made to Mary wherein he told her that she was to be the mother of the Lord. Less often read is Luke’s telling of the visit of the same angel to Zechariah, which occurred prior to the visit to Mary. Zechariah, who was the husband of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, is told by Gabriel that Elizabeth (long thought to be barren) would give birth to a son, and that he was to be named John.
Upon hearing this amazing news, Zechariah’s response was, to say the least, disappointing. He didn’t believe it. Notwithstanding that fact that the news had been carried to him by an angel of God, Zechariah simply did not believe that Elizabeth could or would become pregnant and give him a son. In short, although he believed in God, he failed to believe that God could change his personal reality. As punishment for his disbelief, Zechariah was rendered mute until the day that John was born.
Compare this story of Zechariah and his unbelief to that of Mary and her total submission to the will of God. Because of his failure of faith, Zechariah is unable to tell even his wife Elizabeth of the visitation of the angel, and cannot share with her the good news of God’s mercy and favor. By contrast, Mary visits Elizabeth and shares with her the news of the coming of the Son of God. She explains that “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” and that “my spirit rejoices in God my savior!”
How do we respond to the promise of salvation we have in Jesus Christ? Are we made mute like Zechariah, because of our inability to accept that God can profoundly change our reality? Or are we, like Mary, participating in God’s plan and proclaiming the greatness of the Lord?