And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Commentary: The second half of the Benedictus is a preview of John’s ministry. It is a word of hopefulness, not only for the people of his own time, but for the whole of Israel. “Tender mercy” in v. 78 sounds very poetic, but the Greek is more earthy; more like “the compassion of the spleen”. Ancient peoples located powerful emotions in the belly rather than the heart. This a kind of love from God that is visceral and raw; enough light to push away the shadow of death.
To Ponder: How do you envision God’s love for you? Into what darkness in your life do you need God to shine light? In what way are you called to prepare a way for someone else?