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Gospel lesson: Try to banish “too late” from your vocabulary


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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 12/19/22

God accomplishes what he has put in our hearts in the most unpredictable way and at the most unexpected times.

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are prototypically good people, but they are also the prototypical good people who, despite their fairness and loyalty, experience dramas that follow them throughout their lives.

Their drama is represented by their inability to have children. Now elderly, they find themselves hearing the words of the angel Gabriel announcing to them the conception of John the Baptist. The reaction should be one of joy, but in fact Zechariah seems to react with sudden disbelief: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” For this very reaction, the angel takes away his ability to speak, and he will remain mute until he regains his speech precisely because of the birth of his son. 

There are things in life that leave us without words, but there are others that give them back to us. It seems that the Gospel wants to tell us that we should not be in a hurry to draw conclusions about our lives, even when it seems that it’s too late by now for something in particular to happen. Rather, we should banish “too late” from our personal vocabulary and instead keep our trust in God, who accomplishes what he has put in our hearts in the most unpredictable way and at the most unexpected times.

As long as we wake up each morning, it means that there’s still something about this life that we have yet to live, and something that we can keep hoping for. If we stop expecting something from life, it’s a bit like dying. God is the one who restores hope to everyone, even to an old man like Zechariah. It is just a matter of understanding how he acts and wants to be received.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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