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.”



The Benedictus

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 8, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, for our Responsorial, we pray with a passage from Luke’s Gospel. This passage is known as the Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah. It is one of three canticles in the first two chapters of Luke, the others being the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. The Angelic Hymn is often considered a fourth.


At the Wednesday General Audiences given by the Pope, a theme is chosen for “catechesis” or teaching. From October 2001 until February 2006, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI gave their teachings based on the Psalms. JPII closed the first section of these audiences with these words:

“Our commentary on the Psalms and canticles from Morning Prayer concludes today with the Canticle of Zechariah, commonly known as the Benedictus. It is a prophetic canticle, in which the father of John the Baptist, indicates three events in God’s liberation of Israel: the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with David, and the new covenant with Christ. Like the “dawn from on high,” Christ gives light and guides us into the way of peace.”

Wednesday General Audience, October 1, 2003

As we pray with the hope-filled verses of the Benedictus, we pray in a world still seeking the fullness of that Dawn of Tender Mercy …

… 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.


Pope Francis’s closing prayer in Fratelli Tutti reflects the same hope as his predecessors for that universal Dawn, that rising of Love in our hearts.

O God, Trinity of love,
from the profound communion 
of your divine life, 
pour out upon us a torrent 
of fraternal love.

Grant us the love reflected 
in the actions of Jesus, 
in his family of Nazareth,
and in the early Christian community.

Grant that we Christians 
may live the Gospel, 
discovering Christ in each human being, 
recognizing him crucified
in the sufferings of the abandoned
and forgotten of our world,
and risen in each brother or sister 
who makes a new start.

Come, Holy Spirit, 
show us your beauty, 
reflected in all the peoples of the earth,
so that we may discover anew
that all are important 
and all are necessary, 
different faces of the one humanity
that God so loves. Amen.

Music: A Mass for Peace: Benedictus- Karl Jenkins