Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Canticle of Zechariah declares how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament’s expectations of salvation.
Once we grasp that Jesus was no ordinary teacher and healer but Yahweh moving among his people, we can begin to understand his words and actions more clearly. If we survey the texts of the Old Testament—and the first Christians relentlessly read Jesus in light of these writings—we see that Yahweh was expected to do four great things: he would gather the scattered tribes of Israel; he would cleanse the holy temple in Jerusalem; he would definitively deal with the enemies of the nation; and finally, he would reign as Lord of the world.
The eschatological hope expressed especially in the prophets and the Psalms was that through these actions Yahweh would purify Israel, and through the purified Israel he would bring salvation to all. What startled the first followers of Jesus was that he accomplished these four tasks but in the most unexpected way.