The Gospel according to Luke (1:57-66, 80)
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, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to learn from Zechariah and Elizabeth how to grow in the virtue of obedience for the sake of the kingdom.
Encountering Christ: What is it that can make a name so significant? Names are repeated many times over for various reason. Many, to be unique, will change the traditional spelling of a name or choose a name like Moonbeam or Sky to be even more different. Maybe what makes our names so special is who people think of when our names are said. I would imagine that we would all want others to think of us in a positive light. Maybe as someone who brings joy or changes a bad day into a good one.
When I think of the name John, I am reminded of many holy men named John who impact my life. They range in age, occupation, and personality. The thought of each brings a smile to my face and many wonderful memories. I sincerely hope, that despite my short comings, people think of me the same way. Not for the sake of some self-regard, but for how our lives benefit from the souls we are blessed to call friends.
In first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we hear of Zachariah and Elizabeth, who we older and barren, were blessed by God with a son whom they were instructed by the angel Gabriel to name John. This son was to serve an incredibly significant and special purpose. He would prepare the way for his cousin Jesus, the Son of God. When people spoke of John, he was called John the Baptist because he preached repentance of sin and baptized many with water symbolizing a cleansing and preparation for the coming of the Son of Man. John’s name reminded people that he cared and wanted them to have open hearts and minds for the messiah who would bring salvation to his people.
Like John the Baptist I hope we all can be identified as one who cares for others and wants to lead them to our Savior, Jesus Christ. And because we are all unique, we can and should do so in a way only we can. You touch the lives of some people I will never meet and visa versa. We are live and work in different places. We have our own families and friends. We exist in spheres that many never or seldom cross. But we all share one common purpose, to love and serve the Lord and each other.
In addition to people thinking of us as a kind, caring, funny, thoughtful, good listener, understanding, patient, involved, available, generous, helpful, a good friend, I hope this list will also include brother or sister in Christ. One who helps experience the love of God in our person. One who, with the grace of God, leads to the one who unites us all in on body, His Body, the Body of Christ.
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, you know us so well you can count every hair on our head. Please help us to have a fire in our heart that burns for you and for our brothers and sisters. May this desire create in us a clean heart. One that seeks the good of others regardless of who they are.
Action for the Day: In prayer or meditation think about how special John was, even before he was born. Think about how special you are and how you are called to serve God and others in a way only you can because of your unique gifts and where you are. Find a way to serve with the special gifts God has given you.