Jesus Christ is divine mercy in person. It is fitting, then, that his Forerunner has John (“God has shown favor”) for a name. Fitting, too, that Scripture accounts about John instruct us.
Neighbors and relatives are going to name Elizabeth’s son after her husband. But she replies that her son will receive the name John. They counter that no one among the relatives has such name. So, they ask the father; he writes down that John is his son’s name. Immediately, the tongue of the one who could not talk is freed.
Clearly, neighbors and relatives are off the target about the name of the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. That is because only the advanced in years and the barren can really grasp their personal experience of God’s favor. Such unique knowledge makes them acutely aware of God’s favor.
So then, they cannot but name their son John. It is the same name that God has given to the one he has called though still in his mother’s womb. As for Zechariah in particular, as soon as he accepts God’s plan, the Spirit sets him free.
That is to say, as he acknowledges his son’s name, the power unbelief stifles becomes alive again. Looking now past his advanced years, he puts his trust in God. As long as the parents live, John will be to them the living presence of the Almighty who has shown them favor.
John’s identity lies in his being at another’s service.
John does not only make present to his parents the favor of God. As prophet of the Most High, he speaks for him. He goes before the Son of the Most High to prepare his way. He is not the light, only a witness to it.
Moreover, his detachment is total. John is ready to go to jail and have his head cut off. That is how he will fulfill his mission, so that Jesus may begin his. Jesus must increase; he must decrease.
Scripture accounts about John are for our instruction.
We Christians are to do as Zechariah and Elizabeth and their son. Distrust of our own strength are to be the basis of our trust in God (SV.EN III:143). Besides, we should be free ourselves of worries about “an honorable retirement” (SV.EN I:15). In that way, the Spirit can set us free for the good of the poor. And it is our duty, of course, to be “men/women-for-others.” That is how our joy will be complete, how we carry out fully our mission and live the Eucharist (SV.EN XII:222).
Lord Jesus, make us work according to your plan. Grant that, like John, we may partner with you in building a more human world that is pleasing in your sight.
24 June 2018
Nativity of John the Baptist
Is 49, 1-6; Acts 13, 22-26; Lk 1, 57-66. 80