By Fr. Matthew Fuhrman
“Behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place” (St. Luke 1:20). As we all have just heard, because of his doubt, the priest Zacharias was struck dumb. And with this silencing of Zacharias the three traditional leadership roles of Ancient Israel were all silent. The people of God had no priest, prophet, or king.
Zacharias, the blameless and righteous priest, was muted.
The Forerunner, his son, the penultimate prophet, was in the womb of his mother Elizabeth.
Herod, the appointed king, was not a Jew, let alone of the tribe of Judah; therefore he was not the true king of Israel.
Why was God silencing His leaders, and allowing foreigners to rule His people? Because the true and ultimate purpose of those roles is about to be fulfilled. The reason those roles were given to the Jews in the first place is about to be made known, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
A few months later, while Herod is still on the throne and Zacharias is still unable to speak, the same Archangel Gabriel will come to a young woman.
The One Whom she will bear will be the fulfillment of the God-ordained roles of priest, prophet, and king. The prototypes were silenced because the Messiah is about to be made manifest. For Our Great High Priest will fashion for Himself a true Temple of His own flesh, a Temple slain before the foundation of the world. The Prophet like unto Moses (cf. Deut. 18:15) will speak and do signs and wonders, not by the Word and Power of God, but because He is the Word and Power of God. And the King of Kings and Prince of Peace will be enthroned in the spotless womb of the holiest woman who ever lived.
In short, Israel’s leadership was silenced because the True Leader was about to come. The Lord God Almighty is made man.
So what does this have to do with us, today? In other words, since the Messiah has come, what are we to make of this, 2000 years after the fact, living in America in the 21st century?
Every role which was silenced in today’s Gospel reading, and which was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is what each of us is called to be. We are all called to be God’s priests, prophets, and kings. In fact, this place, right now, is filled with God’s priests, God’s prophets, and God’s kings.
The Orthodox Church is the holy nation, the royal priesthood (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). Everyone here is God’s priest, because every Orthodox Christian will present and offer himself or herself before the Eucharistic Chalice. This is the priesthood of all believers.
Every one of us is called to prophetically speak God’s Truth to a world that desperately needs it, even though it often wants nothing to do with it. This is especially true today when publications and websites bearing the name Orthodox reject the Truth and choose to follow the way of the world instead.
Everyone here has also been anointed, by virtue of Chrismation, to be God’s chosen kings and queens. Everything Christ is by nature, He makes us to be by grace. Because He is the true priest, prophet, and king, He gives us the grace to become like Him.
The priest was made silent, a usurper sits as king, and the Forerunner is yet to be born. But God, Who fashions us like Himself, is with us.