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 1:59-64)
My maternal grandmother came from a family of girls. My mother was the youngest of three girls. My mom’s two older sisters had nothing but girls. So, when she went to the hospital to have her first-born child, mom went with a plan. She was going to have “Judith Marie”. She loved that name. She adored that name. She wanted nothing more than to have a Judith Marie. (Ah, but God in His infinite plans decided to bless my mom with not one but three boys and nary a girl. No Judith Marie would come forth from her.)
Thus, the unexpected happened. She had a boy. And, she was in a state. She had arrived at the hospital to have a Judith Marie. She never even had a boy’s name picked. After some discussion, she named her first-born Stephen after her father.
When she went to the hospital five years later for her second child, she went to have a Judith Marie. Another boy was born. That was named after my father: Joseph Charles, Jr.
Five years later, she went to the hospital to have Judith Marie — or Michael. She finally had a boy’s name planned in case her child was another boy instead of a girl.
Names are important. They give us a certain standing. They evoke all sorts of feelings. They connect us with our past. They truly make us who we are.
In today’s gospel, John the Baptist was born and the community expected him to be named after his father, Zechariah. They did not believe Elizabeth when she said he was to be called John. It was only after Zechariah wrote that he was, indeed, John that his tongue was loosed and he was able to speak again.
Names are important. What do you call God? Is He loving Savior? Is He Almighty Creator? Is He best friend? The name you have for Him speaks volumes.
FAITH ACTION: Speak to God by name this day asking Him to help you to be prepared for Christmas?