Gospel: Luke 1:57-66,80
Children, we are celebrating a very special birthday today, that of John the Baptist. What do you know about John the Baptist?
Elizabeth and Zechariah were Mary’s relatives. They were old and had no children, but they were promised a child by an angel. When Zechariah laughed at this suggestion, he was left unable to speak from that day until we come across them in today’s reading.
John’s name means ‘God’s gracious gift.’ Why do you think that Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted to use that for his name?
Does anyone here know the meaning of their name?
What are some of the gifts that God gives to us?
What are some of the ways that we are God’s gift to others?
In ancient Jewish culture, names had much more significance than they do for most of us in the West today. A name was more than what people called you; the meaning of your name said something about your character. Normally someone was named after an honourable relative that it was hoped that the child would grow to imitate, similar to the custom of taking saints’ names in more recent Catholic-Christian memory. The name ‘John’ is the English version of the Hebrew ‘Jehohanan,’ meaning ‘God’s gracious gift.’ Not only was Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son a gracious gift of God to them, but a gift of God to all humanity. By mentioning the fact that John went into ‘the wilderness,’ Luke is highlighting that John was following in a tradition of Hebrew prophets who followed the same trajectory, and whose purpose was to call people back to authentic worship of and service to God.
God, help us to follow the call of John the Baptist and to live our lives in the way of following Jesus. Amen.
| Read today’s Readings here
“A Christian doesn’t proclaim himself, he proclaims another, he prepares the path to another: to the Lord” –
Pope Francis, Nativity of John the Baptist, 2014