During the Church’s morning prayer, the Canticle of Zechariah is recited. I’ve been using the Magnificat for over 10 years now and was always confused as to why this was included in the morning prayer, especially the part where he addresses his newborn son.
The prayer is taken from Luke 1:68-79, when Zechariah’s tongue is freed after indicating that John would be his son’s name, as the angel had foretold. This inspiration from the Holy Spirit prompted him to not just praise God, but announce that:
“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Lk 1:76-77).
For the longest time, I would read/pray this as a point of history. There will never be another John the Baptist, so why do we repeat this daily? Is it just to praise God for what He has done in the past? If that’s the case, then most of the Bible would be prayed in the same way. Yet we look to scripture to find our way in the world, to seek God and His direction for our lives today.
Recently as I was praying this one morning, the thought came to me that it is addressed to us, every single Catholic. We are all called to go out and share the good news with others. We now become the prophets of the Most High, calling others to follow Jesus and prepare the way for Him to come into their hearts and lives. Now this makes perfect sense to have this prayer every morning, to remind us what our mission in life is: preparing others for the coming of the Lord. And how should we go about doing this? By giving the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. This is a very specific directive. People cannot appreciate being saved, unless they know from what they are being saved. If we educate people that the choices they make can be sins, and they are free to make those choices, but there will be consequences of those actions, it’s in this way they can start to appreciate Jesus coming to save them.
As we look into the mirror every morning as we prepare for the day, we look at the prophet God is sending out into the world: you and me. Let our actions reflect that mission to others.