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. (Lk 1:57-64)
Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist.
This is a great feast in the Church since it is the feast of the precursor of Christ. John was, after all, the prophet who pointed Christ out. Other prophets may have had the opportunity to speak about the coming of a Messiah; however, John was able to say, “There He is!”
John’s birth was shrouded in mystery and fear. His father, Zechariah, had been told by an angel that his wife would conceive and bear a son and Zechariah doubted the angel, practically mocking the angel. For that, he was struck mute until the birth of his child.
John should have been named Zechariah after his father. When John was born, the people asked his mother what his name was and Elizabeth said, “His name is John.”
The people would not believe that. No male in his family was John. Males were named after others in the family in order to carry on the name. They would not listen to Elizabeth. Zechariah, however, knew what was happening. He wrote, “His name IS John,” and, immediately, he was able to speak again.
We are often called by the Lord to do something.
There are many times that we, too, doubt.
FAITH ACTION: Pray Zechariah’s canticle — the prayer that priests and religious pray every morning — with reflection and reverence. Let the words of this beautiful canticle speak to you:
Blessed be the Lord, The God of Israel;
He has come to His people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
Born of the house of His servant David.
Through His holy prophets He promised of old
That He would save us from our enemies,
From the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
And to remember His holy Covenant.
This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear,
Holy and righteous in His sight
All the days of our life.
You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our Lord
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death,
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.