Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Archangel Gabriel and Zechariah

Zechariah's Annunciation
by Pamela Lee Cranston
Anglican Theological Review, 2004

(Luke 1:5-23, 57-79)

It was not to Elizabeth (you realize)
that the angel came,
treading down the stair of muslin air
thick with resined incense,
but to Zechariah, her husband
the rural priest and pragmatist
doing his yearly turn of duty
by the altar in Herod's Temple.
His body froze, as Gabriel knew it would,
when the vocabulary of Grace poured
like liquid fire from his lips.
(Angels always carry warning signs for these events.)
What he didn't expect
was a heart gathered against Good News
like a clenched fist.
Zechariah's doubt turned his tongue
to stone - was forced to gestate
in its womb of silence
nine months long, waiting
like the Rock of Meribah
to be smitten, cracked open
by his grief and the strict staff
of the living Word.
Only Gabriel knew how that tongue,
once purified, would give birth
to pure praise, poetry
unstuttered - ringing prophecy
giving to his son, at last,
the true name
he never found
for himself.

- The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah, Limbourg brothers, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry


Anonymous David Smith said...


Interesting that in the miniature the angel and the priest are shown in contemporary dress. We no longer do that. I wonder why.


4:34 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, strange. It reminds of that painting of the resrrected Jesus by Rembrandt, with Jesus wearing an odd hat :) ... The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen

10:02 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Oh nice, the picture and the poem!
Hope you had a happy John the Baptist day. There were many "birthday parties" around here, in Ein Kerem, yesterday.

10:41 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina,

Thanks for the good wishes and for mentioning Ein Kerem. It looks so pretty among the forested hills :)

12:48 AM  

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