Eight days after John the Baptist was born, his parents brought him to be circumcised. At that time, they named him, and his father Zacharias gave him a blessing, known commonly as the Benedictus. (See Bible Dictionary: “Hymns,” “Zacharias.”)
The first part of that blessing speaks of the mission of Jesus Christ as a fulfillment of the words of prophets and the Abrahamic Covenant. The second part speaks of John’s role in preparing the way for the Savior’s mission. Here is the complete blessing:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.Luke 1:68-79
As I’ve pondered this psalm today, I’ve been drawn to the last verse. Isaiah wrote, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2, 2 Nephi 19:2). Zacharias clearly saw his son’s mission as one fulfillment of that prophecy.
Sister Reyna Aburto has pointed out that depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional afflictions can seem like black clouds in our lives. “They can distort the way we perceive ourselves, others, and even God.” She testified that God can give us light when we walk in darkness:
If you are constantly surrounded by a “mist of darkness,” turn to Heavenly Father. Nothing that you have experienced can change the eternal truth that you are His child and that He loves you. Remember that Christ is your Savior and Redeemer, and God is your Father. They understand. Picture Them close by you, listening and offering support.“Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!” General Conference, October 2019
We can also help bring God’s light into the hearts and minds of people who are walking in darkness. Jesus said, “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24).
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with one of my daughters, who is serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The joy emanating from a person who is working 24 hours a day to spread the light of Christ is palpable, and it is contagious.
Today, I will give light to people who sit in darkness. I will remember that the people I interact with throughout the day may be experiencing various forms of darkness, and I will strive to talk with them and serve them in a way that brings the light of Christ into their lives.