BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
“God is gracious!” This is the meaning of the name John. Zechariah and Elizabeth were blessed by God with a son as a fulfillment of a promise.
The nativity of John the Baptist was not just about the birth of the greatest prophet but rather a new way of looking at the Old Testament. Zechariah and Elizabeth were iconic representations of the Old Testament. Being old and barren, like the Old Testament, they were not able to communicate life anymore. They also represented a period of waiting, long and tedious yet full of hope. In the graciousness of God He fulfilled the promise of old, ended the long waiting and brought the barrenness to fruition. John the Baptist symbolized the transformation of the Old Testament into something new and inaugurated the new spring time in human history. He would soon become the voice announcing that the Messiah has indeed come.
Literally the birth of John the Baptist is a miracle which in a sense represents the birth of all of us. The prophet Isaiah reminds us in the first reading: “God called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name…” This is the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception… A child of God with a destiny to fulfill hence just like all of us has the right to live! Who are we to say that it is just a lump of meat? Abortion is the most atrocious crime we can ever commit against a precious baby who can not even defend himself/herself. It is one of the most sensitive issues that confronts our society today; so sensitive that we do not even hear it preached against in pulpits because of political reasons. The statistics of babies being killed around the world each day is escalating to a degree that humanity has become numbed and indifferent. Our present generation will have to pay for the crime against the babies who could have been our own. If John the Baptist represents the fulfillment of a promise, we can also say that the baby in the mother’s womb is God’s fulfillment of His promise to humanity. Each baby is God’s gift to the world, thanks to our mothers who make this possible. As Rabindranath Tagore says: “Every child comes with a message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” So every child has the potential to be great.
And what about the aged? Aren’t they as precious as a new born child? After the celebration of their life’s fruitfulness, they pass on their dreams to us so that they continue to live and dream in and through us. Whenever I see new places, I believe my father sees them, too. If ever I am good today it is because I reflect the goodness of my mother. Every time I do something beautiful for the world, I give the credits to my parents. This is why we give honor to Zechariah and Elizabeth because they gave the world John the Baptist.
From the moment of his conception in the womb to his last breath and all those times in between, the life of man is pure grace! We can only be grateful to God! In the eyes of God each one of us is His beloved!