Gospel Luke 1:57-66,80
‘His name is John’
The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.
Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I make this effort at prayer for the sake of my soul and the souls of my loved ones. I believe that you died for us and want us to be with you forever in heaven.
Petition: Grant me new respect, Lord, for parents.
1. Bundle of Joy: The arrival of a new baby has been a source of joy throughout the ages. Babies are God’s way of saying the world should go on. Each new child reflects a facet of the infinite beauty and mystery of God. And by teaching us patience and selflessness, the little ones help us grow in holiness. In their childlike simplicity they teach us to remain simple. Their neediness can, and should, soften our hearts. They don’t even have to be our own children; we can feel an obligation to help all kids, since their lives enrich all of us. What have I done lately to help the little ones, born and unborn? Is there a crisis-pregnancy centre that could use help? Have I spoken well of parents who are open to large families?
2. God’s Choice: For the ancient Jews a name captured, even defined, a person’s identity. So, for Elizabeth to name her son “John” was significant. It showed her recognition of God’s great plan for the child. John was in the Almighty’s special care from the start. Even today, each and every child is loved by God and has a destiny in the heavenly Father’s plan. Each has a vocation, a calling, in the Church. Do I appreciate the role that little ones have in God’s plans? Do I respect their dignity? Or do I try to impose my prejudices on them? They are tomorrow’s adults. How will I want them to remember my example?
3. Loosened Lips: Zechariah had doubted God and was struck mute. He regains his speech only after publicly accepting God’s plan and allowing his newborn son to take the name John. We, too, might have a bit of Zechariah in us. We resist God, only to hit a dead end. Bad friendships, habits of serious sin, rising despair – all of these can eat away at us. Yet, repentance is slow to come. Why? “We think that evil is basically good,” said Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI (December 8, 2005). “We think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. … If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings, but degrades and humiliates them.” Am I resisting God’s plans?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you have put family members and other loved ones in my life for a reason. I’m to help them get to heaven, and they are to help me do the same. Remind me of this truth and help me in a special way not to interfere with the plans you have for the children in my life.
Resolution: I will pray a decade of the rosary that all my family members reach heaven.