O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
Our antiphon today reminds us of the Canticle of Zechariah, called the Benedictus, which is prayed each morning in the Liturgy of the Hours at Lauds (also called Morning Prayer).
Zechariah was a priest, descended from the lineage of Aaron, as was his wife, Elizabeth. It was during his term of offering incense in the temple that Zechariah was visited by Gabriel and told of his coming son, John, who would “go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah” to prepare the people for the Messiah.
Zechariah’s doubt of the angel’s words caused him to become mute for nine months, until he named his new-born son “John.” At the very moment of the naming, his mouth was freed and he cried out in joy to the Lord with this beautiful song of praise.
(The Benedictus is from Luke 1:67-79, and will be our prayer for today. )
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oat he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of
the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.