The WORD in Other Words by Fr Edwin Fernandez SVD (Philippines)
Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist – June 24
Is 49:1-6, Acts 13:22-26, Lk 1:57-66, 80
The Birth of John the Baptist, which the Church celebrates today, speaks marvelously of God‘s graciousness. Just when Elizabeth and Zechariah had thought that, for natural reasons, they had to abandon their hope of being blessed with a child. God gave them a wonderful surprise. The unexpected coming of their baby made them more and more open to and convinced of God‘s hidden plan. They must have realized that, after all, God had not forgotten them, that He had always been listening to their prayers, that He had a great plan in which they would take part. God knew the best time to fulfill such a plan and finally grant their hearts‘ fervent desire.
The radical openness of the blessed couple to God‘s will can be clearly seen in that moment when they gave a name to their child. Instead of meeting the expectations of their relatives and friends who came to rejoice with them, both of them insisted that John (meaning, “Yahweh is gracious”) was to be his name, not Zechariah (meaning “Yahweh remembers”). This made people wonder what the child would become and what special purpose God had intended for him.
Even when our life does not unfold according to our plans and expectations, it is best to keep our hearts totally open to God‘s surprises and, full of trust, allow Him to realize His wonderful design for us.