Theology Teacher at Presentation Academy (Louisville, Kentucky)
This section of Luke’s gospel is familiar to many of us. We know why Zachariah is silent and the story of Zachariah’s silence ending at the moment he is challenged to name the child according to Jewish tradition. I have missed the following until I read this to write a reflection. Please note that Zachariah actually supported Elizabeth and what she was saying about the baby being named John. This brings a message to us we seldom see in the Scriptures. Here is Elizabeth, the mother of the baby, saying what his name should be. Yet because of the traditions of the Israelites, no one listens to her. Her voice is discounted as “just a woman’s response” and not valid. However, Zachariah gives her support—says the baby’s name is to be John just as his wife has said. We often “skip” to the phrase “he spoke blessing God.” Yet, Elizabeth is the one who called him John; and she was as aware of the Jewish traditions as the people around her. She had the courage to name the child John, after all she was the first to step forward and speak the truth.
How many times have we discounted someone’s words to us because the person wasn’t old enough, mature enough, or was too old to really know what she or he is saying? Yet, at other times, we are in awe of the insight of our children or the wisdom of the old. How many of us have a friend that doesn’t talk much, but when she or he does speak, we really listen. This reading calls us to listen, to hear God speaking through “unlikely” persons. Perhaps it’s time we listen to God speaking with open ears and hearts. Perhaps we are the “unlikely person” speaking God’s word to others today.