“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” (Lk 1: 67-69)
This inspired “song” of Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, poured out from the old man’s heart on the occasion of the birth of his great son. Because today is the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist for us Older-Calendar people, I’d like to “celebrate” also by joining in this ancient “song.” Although it doesn’t get all that much “press” in our liturgical tradition (except during the weekdays of Lent), it does continue to give voice to our gratitude, the Church’s gratitude, for the “tender mercy of our God.” He continuously “visits” and gives “light” to us, who “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” and “guides our feet into the way of peace.” With every “visitation” and “deliverance,” we learn how we “might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” Today I am grateful for every deliverance from fear, by the grace of faith, which God repeatedly works in my life, when I keep my heart open to the things and people He sends to “guide my feet” to Him. Thank You, Lord, for the great Prophet and Forerunner, and the rest of “the great cloud of witnesses” of yesterday and today, whom you send into our lives through Your “tender mercy.” Glory be to You.