When I was growing up “y” was my favorite letter of the alphabet – my poor parents!
We modern people love to question things. Faith can be a huge area of questions and doubts.
Zechariah and the Virgin Mary both question what the Angel Gabriel told them. Zechariah as an elderly priest in the Temple asked, “How can this be? My wife and I are past the child-bearing age?” Mary as a teenage girl asked, “How can this be? I do not know man?” Zechariah receives a nine month silent retreat as punishment for his disbelief. The Virgin Mary receives the Word incarnate in her womb.
What was the difference between their two questions? Evidently Zechariah questioned from a position of disbelief. Mary questioned from a position of faith seeking understanding (the fides quaerens intellectum of St. Anselm).
So let us question like Mary, not from skepticism and suspicion, but rather from a trust which seeks to understand. The answers to some questions are so big and wonderful that we will need to wait for eternity to ponder them. If God was small enough for our minds, He wouldn’t be big enough for our problems.
Another helpful point to ponder: With God the penalty always contains the remedy. Nine months in silence was just what Zechariah needed to confront his unbelief. Silent prayer in the presence of the Lord will help our unbelief as well.
God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary