Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Similar Words, Different Hearts...

A wonderful commentary on the Lukan contrast between Zechariah and Mother Mary in their respective responses to God.
From Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
excerpted from Sermon 293, 1-2

“You have not trusted my words.” (Lk 1:20) “Blest is she who trusted.” (Lk 1:45)

"John the Baptist’s mother was an old and sterile woman; Christ’s mother was a young girl in the fullness of her youth. John was the fruit of sterility; Christ that of virginity…

The one was announced through the message of an angel; the other was conceived upon the angel’s announcement. John’s father did not believe in the news of his birth and he became mute; Christ’s mother believed in her son, and through faith, she conceived him in her womb. The Virgin’s heart first welcomed faith and then, becoming mother, Mary received a fruit in her womb.

The words spoken to the angel by Mary and Zechariah are, however, more or less similar. When the angel announced the birth of John to him, the priest answered: “How am I to know this? I am an old man; my wife too is advanced in age.” Mary responded to the angel’s announcement: “How can this be since I do not know man?”

Yes, they are almost the same words… Yet the former is reprimanded, the latter is enlightened. Zechariah is told: “Because you have not trusted…” But Mary is told: “This is the answer you demanded.” However again, the words of the one and of the other are almost the same… But the one who heard the words also saw the hearts; for him, nothing is hidden.

Each one’s language concealed what he thought; but if this thought was hidden from human beings, it was not hidden from the angel, or rather, it was not concealed from him who spoke through the angel’s mediation."

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