Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was completed, he returned home.
Commentary: The traditional reading of this text is that Zechariah was rendered mute by this experience with Gabriel. The text doesn’t define whether he was unable to speak only about this experience, or unable to utter any speech. It is not uncommon for someone to be uncharacteristically silent after an emotional experience. Selective mutism is a recognized psychological condition. Zechariah was hardly the only one to question the announcements of the angels; traditions that teach that this was a punishment for disbelieving God seem to ignore the other stories in which mortals question and even negotiate with God.
To Ponder: Have you ever been silenced? Have you ever been unable to talk about an experience? Are there parts of your life that you have locked down and never spoken about? Is there a place for silence in your life?