September 18, 2022 - Tout 8, 1739
Martyrdom of Zacharias the Prophet
On this day St. Zacharias, the priest, was martyred by the hand of Herod the King. When the Archangel Gabriel announced to to him the birth of John his son, he did not believe his word and the angel made him dumb and not able to speak until the child was born (Luke 1:18-22) He remained dumb until the day of his birth, and when they named him, he asked for a writing table and wrote that his name would be John. Then he spoke, and praised God. (Luke 1:63-79) The Holy Gospel gave testimony concerning him, that he and his wife were righteous, walking in the Law of God without blemish.
When our Lord Christ was born, and the wise men came to worship Him, Herod was troubled and feared for his kingdom. For this reason, he gave the order to slay all the children of Bethlehem, from two years old and under, so he would kill the Lord Christ among them. The angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, Take the child and flee to Egypt. St. Joseph took the child Jesus and St. Mary, His mother, and went to Egypt as the angel of the Lord had told him.
But John's mother took him and fled to the mountain where she dwelt, bringing him up for six years. After her departure to Heaven, the child remained in the desert till the day of his appearance to Israel (Luke 1:80) It was said that during the slaughter of the children, Herod thought that John was the Christ. He sent requesting him from his father Zacharias who said, I do not know where the child is. They threatened to kill him, but he did not heed. Herod ordered his soldiers to slay him. It was also said that when Herod sought John to slay him, Zacharias escaped with him to the sanctuary and put him on the altar and when they caught up with him, he told the soldiers, From here I accepted him from the Lord, and thereupon the angel of God snatched away the child, and took him to the desert Zifana. when they did not find the child, they slew Zacharias between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:25)
Zacharias the priest, son of Barachias, is not Zacharias the prophet who was one of the twelve minor prophets. This prophet was not martyred but died and his body was found without decay. May his prayers be with us all. Amen.