‘John is his name’ (Luke 1:63)
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist / Mass during the Day (June 24, 2021): IS 49:1-6; PS 139:1-3,13-14,14-15; ACTS 13:22-26; LK 1:57-66,80
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
The Gospel reading for today picks up with the birth of the boy and the gladness felt by all the couple’s family and friends.
Today is a rarity on the liturgical calendar since it commemorates the nativity of St. John the Baptist. Only Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary are so honored in this way. But the life of John was extraordinary from his conception. We know that his mother Elizabeth and father Zechariah were an elderly and childless couple. When the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife would give birth to a baby who would play a vital role in Almighty God’s plan for the salvation of His people, he expressed doubt. So until the birth of this baby whom God commanded to be named John, Zechariah would remain mute. The Gospel reading for today picks up with the birth of the boy and the gladness felt by all the couple’s family and friends. They must have known that there must be something extraordinary about the child because of what had happened to the child’s father. Nevertheless, when Elizabeth told them that their son was to be called John, they still protested because this was not a common name in their family.
“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…(Zechariah) asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed” (Luke 1:57-58, 63).
Of course they were astonished. They must have asked each other and their neighbors in surrounding towns just who and what would come of this boy John. And they surely kept their eyes on him while he was growing up. He must have been recognized as being set apart in God’s service. Yet only when he grew to manhood and began preaching repentance because the Messiah was now among them could they begin to grasp the significance of St. John the Baptist. Through him, many would recognize come to accept Christ our Lord and Savior.