“Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God” – Lk 1:64
When I was 21 years old, I underwent orthognathic surgery to correct a severe under bite. My mouth was wired for 12 weeks shut to allow my jawbone to heal and set in. I could not talk and was limited to a liquid diet. My siblings were so nice, they teased me relentlessly for being unable to talk and paraded my favorite food in front of me while enjoying these delightful delicacies. It was a long three-month waiting, unbearable at times. When I finally spoke, I was filled with gratitude and expectancy. I was eager not just to eat substantial food, but excited to converse with people. I caught a glimpse of what Zechariah experienced.
At the announcement his son’s birth, the elder Zechariah asked for a sign. And he became mute for 9-months. What a dramatic sign. Talk about being careful of what you ask for! Some say he was punished for doubting. Yet, my experience of not talking for months helps me to see Zechariah’s imposed silence as effective preparation. Zechariah had been waiting all of his life for a son; like his people and wife Elizabeth, he had been hoping for God’s decisive action to liberate his downtrodden people. So when he opened his mouth, it was to bless God. He sang out an effusive canticle which began with: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and set them free …” (1:68). For nine trying months, as his son was growing in his wife’s womb, Zechariah was being prepared to join the unfolding drama of God’s saving love. Before he spoke, he wrote his name’s son on the tablet: “John” which means “Yahweh has shown favor.” Favor not only to his family, favor to his people, favor to the poor and lowly.
I was told that my jaw surgery would improve my bite, my self-esteem, and possibly my speech. Little did I know that it would prepare me to speak of God’s love, of God’s favor to me, to God’s poor, to people I’m so privileged to encounter and serve. I understand more deeply now how God had been preparing me, like God prepared Zechariah, to enter the unfurling drama of Christ’s saving love. It is my deep intuition that God has been preparing each of you as well, to take your place in this mysterious and magnificent drama of liberating love. For nothing is impossible with God.
What if whatever you’ve been experiencing these past weeks is a preparation for a magnificent epic of love? Take a few minutes of quiet, step back, and imagine this possibility of how you are favored.