Psalm: The Benedictus

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

January 30, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Responsorial Psalm is the glorious Benedictus which is one of the three canticles in Luke’s first two chapters, the other two being the “Magnificat” and the “Nunc Dimittis”. The Benedictus was the song of thanksgiving uttered by Zechariah on the occasion of the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist.

Rembrandt: The Circumcision of John

Can you imagine Zechariah that morning, holding his little boy, eight days old? This unexpected, miraculous child would be named in a ceremony marking the ancient covenant between God and God’s People.

The little group gathered for the ritual expected the name to be an honorary repetition, probably his grandfather’s name. Instead, it is a name delivered by an angel: John, which means “Yahweh has shown favor,” — announcing John’s role in salvation history.

When Zechariah, still struck deaf and mute, indicates his agreement with Elizabeth on John’s name, his tongue is loosed. He immediately praises God and proclaims a framework for the miracles about to come – the Benedictus.

Praying with this Canticle this morning, I treasure its lovely phrases and its succinct recounting of Israel’s “God Story” even as it reflects my own.


Prose: This past Advent, one of our Sisters of Mercy offered a profound reflection on Zechariah’s song. It blessed my prayer once again today.

from Sisters of Mercy Blog

Music: Benedictus – Karl Jenkins

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.
He has raised up a horn for our salvation
within the house of David his servant,
even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers
and to be mindful of his holy covenant
7and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father,
and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies,
without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high* will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”



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