We are not sure how long Zechariah was without speech but I guess the impediment provided hours of reflective time for him while his wife and Mary enjoyed each other’s company without interruption.
It seems a bit tough for the good and upright priest Zechariah to be silenced simply for struggling to understand the angel’s promise that he and his wife, both well on in years, would bear a son who would prepare the way for the Christ.
From today’s gospel reading I hear a call to not be afraid of silence, whether imposed or in the space created when I just don’t know what to say.
Those who are truly wise know that silence can provide a higher school of learning, a classroom of growth. In the words of the first reading a place of refining and purification – as gold and silver are tested.
A good life-coach will notice the student who shows potential and will challenge them even more than the rest. These are the students who, if they respond to the extra attention and encouragement, become the highest achievers.
God as life-coach for Zechariah, already one who served faithfully in the temple, gives his student an opportunity for silent reflection. Then Zechariah’s “mouth opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak praising God” in a way that was fresh and powerful so that all who heard his words pondered them and knew that the Lord was with him.
You might like to take time today for silence. This may seem impossible since the couple of days before Christmas are often the busiest days of the year. But try taking 30 seconds silence, whenever you think of it, and take a dozen of these thirty-second spots throughout the day, to breathe. and to know that the breaths that you take in these seconds are a gift from God who is embracing you with love.