The Benedictus

He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
(Luke 1:69-75)

Scripture Study

1:69 Jesus is the awaited Messiah from David’s dynastic line (2 Sam 7:12–16; Ps 89:26–29; 132:11; Is 9:6–7). Following Jewish custom, Joseph’s legal fatherhood was equivalent to natural fatherhood in matters of inheritance. Joseph thus confers the privileges of a Davidic descendant upon Jesus (1:27), whereas God the Father anoints him as king (Mk 16:19) (CCC 437).

1:72 remember his holy covenant: God’s covenant oath to Abraham (Gen 22:16–18) nears its fulfillment in the preparatory role played by John’s parents. Even their names symbolize that God remembers (Zechariah) his oath (Elizabeth) and will soon fulfill it through the mission of John and Jesus. Luke situates his narrative within the broader framework of world history (2:1–2; 3:1–2).

Scripture Reflection

Today’s reading is the part of the Benedictus which celebrates the birth of Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, and the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for Israel. Again and again God promised the Old Testament patriarchs that he would take special care of Israel, giving them a land which they would enjoy undisturbed and many descendants in whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. This promise he ratified by means of a covenant or alliance, of the kind commonly made between kings and their vassals in the Near East.

God, as Lord, would protect the patriarchs and their descendants, and these would prove their attachment to him by offering him certain sacrifices and by doing him service. See, for example, Genesis 12:13; 17:1–8; 22:16–18 (God’s promise, covenant, and pledge to Abraham); and Genesis 35:11–12 (where he repeats these promises to Jacob). Zechariah realizes that the events resulting from the birth of John his son, the Precursor of the Messiah, constitute complete fulfillment of these divine purposes.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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