4th Day of Simbang Gabi (December 19, 2023)

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My dear brothers and sisters, on this fourth day of our Simbang Gabi, the Gospel brings us a story that is both familiar and profoundly moving — the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Imagine with me for a moment the scene in the temple. Zechariah, a priest of the Lord, chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary. The air thick with the scent of incense, prayers rising from the hearts of the people outside. And then, the unexpected: an angel appears, bringing news that Zechariah and Elizabeth, though aged and barren, will have a son.

Zechariah, astounded, questions this divine proclamation. How can this be? His doubt met not with punishment, but with a gentle silencing until the appointed time.

Isn’t it striking how often our response to unexpected blessings mirrors that of Zechariah? We, too, may question the possibility of miracles in our lives. We, too, might ask, “How can this be?” when faced with God’s promises.

In our doubts and questions, we find a shared humanity with Zechariah. Yet, notice the angel’s response — it’s not a rebuke but an assurance. It’s an acknowledgment of the human struggle to comprehend the divine.

We live in a world that often demands certainty, where doubt is seen as weakness. But friends, doubt can be a companion on our journey of faith. It’s the raw material of our quest for understanding. It’s the precursor to deeper trust.

Consider this: Zechariah’s doubt didn’t negate the miracle; it was part of the miracle. It’s in wrestling with the unknown that our faith muscles grow stronger.

Today, as we reflect on Zechariah’s journey, let’s embrace our questions. Let’s bring them to the altar, just as Zechariah stood before the holy of holies. And in the midst of our questioning, may we, like Zechariah, find ourselves open to the unexpected ways God works in our lives.

As we continue our Simbang Gabi, let’s allow the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth to inspire us. God’s promises may unfold in ways we can’t foresee, and sometimes our questions are the very pathways to a deeper encounter with the divine.

May this season of preparation be not just about the anticipated joy of Christ’s birth but also about the transformative journey of faith, where our doubts, like Zechariah’s, become steppingstones to a more profound trust in God’s unfolding plan. Amen.

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Fray Albert Pellazar, OAR

Fray Albert Pellazar, OAR

Ordained priest of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.