Mid-week Advent I
Mary, model hearer of God's Word; Luke 1:26-38
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
When Moses was called to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, YHWH told him, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) Moses, perhaps the greatest person in the history of the Old Testament, responds with excuses. God spoke to Moses, and Moses lists off reasons why that Word cannot be.
- “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
- “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13)
- “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” (Exodus 4:1)
- “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
- “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” (Exodus 4:13)
Finally, Moses is convinced to do what the Word of God commanded Him to do.
When the prophet Ezekiel was called to proclaim the justice of God to the people of Israel, it almost seems as if he had to be convinced by vision of heaven unlike anything described elsewhere in the Scriptures, spare the Revelation given to St. John. After the frightening vision, showcasing the might and majesty of God over creation, YHWH tells the priest,
Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.” As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. (Ezekiel 2:3-8)
Rather than just being told what he was going to do and going, one can read the vision as being that little extra nudge that Ezekiel needed to heed the Word of God.
And there’s Jonah—obstinate Jonah. This prophet was told to go to the land of Nineveh and proclaim the judgment of God to the people there: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2) What does Jonah do instead? He flees to Tarshish, as if to hide from God, perhaps in the hopes that God would send someone else to Nineveh instead. But God had none of it. A great storm arose and tossed the boat on which Jonah had booked passage. Knowing that he was the cause of the boat’s problems, he pleads with the crew to throw him overboard, which they finally do. “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17) After being vomited by the fish, Jonah makes his way to Nineveh, proclaims the Word of God there, and the city repents, much to Jonah’s surprise and dismay.
What about Zecharias? Here is a priest, no less, someone who should know the Word of God when it comes to him, one would think. He is well advanced in years, but childless; his wife Elizabeth is barren. It was his turn to serve in the temple, and as he was doing so, the archangel Gabriel appears to him and tells him that Elizabeth is pregnant. “You will call his name John.” (Luke 1:13) The priest asks, “How shall I know this?” He gives excuses how this cannot be: “I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18) You can almost hear him scoffing and mocking the angel. For not believing the Word of God sent to him, Zecharias is made a mute until he names his son John.