Gabriel thought he had prepared well, waited for the perfect moment and appeared next to Zacharias at the altar. Here’s how King James [the other one, the one in the 17th century] described it:
And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Then it happened. Zacharias interrupted Gabriel.
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years
Apparently Gabriel’s preparation was one ‘shalt not’ short, as in ‘thy shall not speak until frogs fly or there is some morsel of knowledge that bipeds could possibly ever acquire before those of us who hang with God–on our off days!–would not already know. Yeah I’m hanging on your every thought there Zach.’ For those who knew Gabriel, head-strong, talking loud … what came next was not a surprise.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
OK that reads stronger than it sounded at the time, Gabriel thought. People forget, angels are messengers, not saints. He had a message for Zacharias and delivered it. After all, this wasn’t his first rodeo. At least Daniel had sense enough to just listen. He had found Zacharias’ response a tad grating and meted out proportional punishment. A little time-out from speaking. What, that’s now the thin edge of the fascist wedge? What is our world coming to, he thought, when angels are more old school than God.
Gabriel: [eyes down, palms up and slowly rising]
God: Glad you are ready. I have another.
EWTN’s fact or fiction about Angels.