Gospel: Lk 1:67-79
Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, sang this canticle:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has come and redeemed his people.
In the house of David his servant,
he has raised up for us a victorious Savior;
as he promised through his prophets of old,
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of our foes.
He has shown mercy to our fathers;
and remembered his holy Covenant,
the oath he swore to Abraham, our father,
to deliver us from the enemy,
that we might serve him fearlessly,
as a holy and righteous people,
all the days of our lives.
And you, my child,
shall be called Prophet of the Most High,
for you shall go before the Lord,
to prepare the way for him,
and to enable his people to know of their salvation,
when he comes to forgive their sins.
This is the work of the mercy of our God,
who comes from on high, as a rising sun,
shining on those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and guiding our feet into the way of peace.”
In psychiatry, we learn that one way for the psyche to protect itself from pain is to project on others the psyche’s inner fears, guilt, shame, desires or any painful and inadmissible impulse.
We find something of this defense mechanism operating in all the people connected with Jesus (except possibly Mary). They all see Jesus as a great king who will free Israel of the detested Roman forces occupying Palestine. For example, in today’s gospel reading, which features Zechariah’s canticle, Zechariah refers to the coming Messiah as to “a victorious Savior” who will provide “salvation from our enemies” and who will “deliver us from the enemy.”
All this is true of Jesus, except that the enemy he has come to war against is sin. He has come to rid us of our pride, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, and so on. That is the inner enemy that we have problem recognizing and confessing. Instead we project our inner enemy onto a political enemy, much easier to deal with.
As the comic strip character Pogo (author: Walt Kelly) says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”