June 24, 2012: Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1:57-66, 80)
This is an interesting story about how John the Baptist got his name. If you remember, his father (Zechariah) had been struck dumb when he did not believe the story an angel told him: that he would be the father of a baby who would prepare people for the coming of the Messiah. When the baby was born, the people wanted him to be called Zechariah after his father. But Zechariah (who was still dumb) wrote that the boy would be called John–and when he did his ability to talk returned and he spoke words of blessing on the child and all who were there.
Find the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the gospel and read it again, several times. Imagine what both Elizabeth and Zechariah had gone through during the nine months she was pregnant, and when Zechariah could not talk. Try to think about what you would do if you suddenly could not talk, especially if you knew something powerful was happening–that you were to become the parents of a son who would play an important role in the land of Judea. Get to know Elizabeth and Zechariah, and through them get to know John the Baptist, a quiet man, their son, and a cousin whom Jesus loved.