This is the song of blessing, sung by Zachary at the circumcision ceremony of his son, John. It’s a song of thanksgiving, not just because after so many years, Zachary and his wife Elizabeth were blessed with a son, but also because Zachary is inspired to see his son as the herald of the messiah. Could any child have a greater vocation?!
The keynote of Zachary’s hymn of thanksgiving is “God promises, and he always keeps his promises.” For this, Zachary goes back in time. He remembers the prophets and the deliverance they prayed for. He remembers God’s promises to Abraham. He remembers God saving his people from their enemies so that they could worship him in freedom and uprightness, their whole life long.
The second part of Zachary’s hymn sees the hope of Israel’s ancestors being realized in John, Zachary’s son. He will be the herald, the fore-runner, the one who prepares the way for the Lord.
“God remembers.” This is the theme of Zachary’s song. In various ways and at different times, God makes promises to his people, and he always remembers to fulfil them. There’s no such thing as ‘god-forsaken’ or ‘god-forgot’, though we use these terms indiscriminately to vent our anger on a God whom, we claim, doesn’t hear our prayers soon enough.
The stories of John the Baptist and Jesus are a continual reminder that the history of salvation is a narrative of ups and downs, of detours and bypasses, but that ‘in the fullness of time’ – not our time, but God’s – all that was promised will come to an abundant fulfillment.