Friday, June 24, 2016

Reflection: Luke 1:57-66, 80

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist – Luke 1:57-66, 80

Today we celebrate the solemn feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Naturally, the Gospel reading is the story of John’s birth and naming.

Elizabeth had longed for a child for many years.  However, it was not to be.  Now at an older age, Elizabeth and Zechariah finally received a great gift from God: the birth of a son, John.  After John was born, the relatives of Elizabeth and Zechariah gathered to celebrate the baby’s birth.  After so many years wishing for a child, they had received the gift for which they had longed.  They were ecstatic and filled with joy!

Before going on, it may be helpful to recall that at the very beginning of Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah was in the temple.  One day an angel appeared to him.  The angel’s message for him was that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son even though she was far beyond child-bearing age. Zechariah had difficulty comprehending and accepting this message. After all, he also was advanced in years.   Zechariah had the gall to question the angel how this would happen.  As a result, the angel struck Zechariah mute.  The angel told him that he would be unable to speak until the child was born. And so it was!

In the time of Elizabeth and Zechariah, the custom was to circumcise a male child on the eighth day after his birth. When the family and friends gathered for this rite, they assumed that Elizabeth and Zechariah would name the child after his father.  This was the custom at that time.  However, when the family members and neighbors asked them what the name the child would be given, Elizabeth responded that he would be called John.  Everyone was astounded! Why would this child be named John? Nobody in the family had that name.

The family members then turned to Zechariah and asked him the same question.  Zechariah wrote on a tablet: “His name is John.”  Immediately Zechariah’s speech was restored.  His tongue was freed and he spoke, blessing God for the gift of their child.  Everyone was confounded by this event.  They did not know what to make of it and asked: “Who and what will this child be?” They all believed that the hand of God was upon this child!

Have you ever been confounded by something that God has done in your life?  Take a few moments and ponder that question.  Then remember a time in your life when you received a great gift from God that you never expected. What was your response to God’s gift?

Be awake today!  God, once again, may gift you with an expected present. Have an open mind and an open heart!  When you receive God’s gift, be sure to praise and thank God!

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