“…And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet onto the way of peace.” (Zacharia’s Prophecy, Lk 1: 76-79)
In the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about “the way of peace” mentioned here by Zacharia, the father of St. John the Baptist, in his prophecy about his own son, and about “the Sunrise” or “Orient” from on high, the Messiah. We know that this “way of peace,” which gives “light to them that sit in darkness,” is the way of the Cross. Because the Messiah, Jesus Christ, walked the way of the Cross, which is called in Byzantine hymnography “the weapon of peace.”
I’ve been thinking about this because of a close friend of mine, a single mom whose 10-year-old daughter is being bullied in school. My friend’s efforts to help her child seem to have been futile, including her repeatedly going to the school, talking to teachers and parents, and asking the parishioners at our church here for prayers. The teachers and parents seem to be increasingly indifferent or hostile, and her daughter continues to come home in tears, occasionally to get into fights, and so on. I’ll also note that my friend doesn’t have the options either of home-schooling or changing schools.
So at this point it seems we are witnessing the harsh reality of a young child being taught the way of the Cross; the way of taking up “the weapon of peace.” I don’t see any other “light” in this picture. Because alternatively she could be taught the way of bitterness, resentment, self-pity and self-isolation. May His light shine in our darkness and our powerlessness today, for the young and the old, that our feet may be guided by “the tender mercy of our God,” onto “the way of peace.”