“I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Luke 1:19b-20
Wow, in describing the impact of this statement, here are a few descriptive words: Powerful, authoritative, definitive, shocking, humbling, overwhelming and divine. “I am Gabriel, who stand before God!” How many people can say that? Gabriel, being a celestial being is one of the few.
It’s interesting to contrast the conversation of Zechariah and Gabriel with the one that Mary has with Gabriel. Their responses to Gabriel seem similar, but Gabriel reacts to each of them in completely different ways. To Mary, Gabriel offers a simple explanation upon her request for more information: “How can this be?” she says. Gabriel responds, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you…” But, in the case of Zechariah, the Angel does not give an explanation. Instead, Zechariah is struck mute for his failure to believe.
Though these reactions of Mary and Zechariah may seem similar on the surface, it’s clear that their hearts are quite far apart. For Mary, our Blessed Mother, her question was asked in perfect faith. She heard Gabriel speak and she believed. But faith seeks understanding and so Mary, in her perfect faith, sought to understand the mystery that was being presented to her. Gabriel responds with a brief insight and Mary is grateful for that.
Zechariah responds to the angel, “How shall I know this?” In other words, he admitted to not “knowing” these words to be true. Faith is knowledge of the clearest form and Zechariah failed to have faith. Therefore, he was struck mute as a sign that, without faith, there is nothing to speak.
Reflect, today, upon your own faith. Is it pure and eager to assent to all that God reveals? Are you ready and willing to believe all that God speaks to you? Though you may not receive His word through the direct mediation of an angel in visible form, you are privileged to have God speak to you constantly through these angelic advocates. When they speak, do you listen and respond with the faith of our Blessed Mother’s? Or, like Zechariah, do you hesitate and doubt the revelation?
Lord, give me the same pure and holy faith that Your Blessed Mother had. Though I acknowledge my sin and weakness, help me, by her example and intercession, to receive each and every word You wish to speak to me through the mediation of the hosts of Heaven. May I always be attentive to Your word and respond with a generous heart. Jesus, I trust in You.