Linda asks: 1. “Zechariah’s question “how shall I know this?” sounds so similar to Mary’s “How can this be?”…yet he was punished?
2. Why do we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents BEFORE Epiphany?
Father Pete: 1. Zechariah’s question has a doubt and a spirit of arrogance to it like saying sarcastically, “no way!” Mary’s question was sincere. She was asking how can she get pregnant without ‘knowing a man.’ So the angel told her about the power of the Holy Spirit. So how you ask a question reveals your attitude.
2. The Church celebrations do not necessarily follow a historical order. The feast of the innocents is celebrated on the 28th of December to emphasize the grace of martyrdom as their way of proclaiming the Gospel. The Epiphany emphasizes our call to spread the Gospel to the nations symbolized by the Magi who were not Jews but came from other nations. It is a fitting way to prepare for the conclusion of the Christmas season.
Keep the questions coming!
Love, Fr. Pete