The First Reading speaks of the coming of the messenger of the Lord to prepare for the coming of the Lord. What will this messenger do? He will be like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. This was seen in the Gospel Reading today. The faith of Zechariah needed to be purified, because he did not believe that his prayers would be answered. Which is why he was struck mute when he questioned the angel. Lack of faith makes us lose our ability to speak and hear. But when he insisted on giving the child the name the angel gave the child, Zechariah spoke. The time Zechariah was struck mute gave him time to reflect on the word of the angel and of the power of God to do what he wants to do.
This is what we need to do, to purify our faith: go back to the Word of God, reflect on it, and make a decision to believe it. The Psalm is a prayer to God: make me know your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. God purifies our faith. While our doubts, our fears, the darkness in our lives are not from God, God uses these to purify our faith. He leads us through them so we can see the victory God does for those who fear him. The Psalm tells us: the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him and he makes his covenant known to them.
When our faith is purified, then what Malachi said will happen. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents. The translation used in the missal is not accurate because it is translated to make it gender neutral. But the right translation is: he shall turn the heart of the fathers to their children and the heart of the children to their fathers. The father here is God himself.
God wants to purify our faith so we can please him. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, without faith it is impossible to please God. If we want to please God we will allow him to purify our faith. Advent teaches us to wait for the Lord, and it is the time to purify our faith. We wait for God’s Word to be done and in the process of waiting, we look forward with hope that his Word will be done.
Lord, purify my faith. I have doubts, I have fears. I feel confused and overwhelmed. Yet, you use all these to purify my faith. Teach me Lord to fear you so I may learn to please you. Make me know your ways. Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me for you are the God of my salvation.