Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”
They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.
Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
In celebrating the Nativity of John the Baptist, we celebrate multiple miracles.
We celebrate the miracle of birth. As I learned in a profound way when each of my three children came into the world, birth—giving life—is a miracle. The miracle of John’s birth was all the more noteworthy because he was born to aged, childless parents and his birth paralleled the miraculous birth of Christ.
We celebrate the miracle of God’s love and the power faith. Despite being rendered speechless for doubting the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement of John’s birth, Zechariah was saved by his faith and obedience to God. In return, Zechariah was given the gift of prophecy and foretold the future ministry of John. John’s faith made him a prophet who paved the way for Jesus, whom he later baptized.
We celebrate the miracle of building the Kingdom. The births of John and Jesus prompt us to ask, What, then, is my unique mission? Who am I becoming? The lives of John and Jesus prompt us to have faith that the hand of the Lord is with us. Let us pray on this special day that we may grow strong enough in spirit to serve as builders of God’s Kingdom on earth.
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Lord, increase our faith to grasp the awesome truth that your hand is upon us — no less than it was upon John and Jesus. We boldly move forward this day to serve as builders of God’s Kingdom on earth.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!