Nativity of John the Baptist
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord,
I make this effort at prayer for the sake of
my soul and the souls of my loved ones. I
believe that you died for us and want us to
be with you forever in heaven.
Petition: Grant me new
respect, Lord, for parents who do so much to raise
up new sons and daughters for the Church.
1. Bundle of
Joy. The arrival of a new baby has been a
source of joy for many throughout the ages. Babies are
God´s way of saying the world should go on. Each
new child reflects a facet of the infinite beauty and
mystery of God. And by teaching us patience and selflessness,
the little ones help us grow in holiness. In their
childlike simplicity they teach us to remain simple. Their neediness
can, and should, soften our hearts. They don´t even have
to be our own children; we can feel an obligation
to help all kids, since their lives enrich all of
us. What have I done lately to help the little
ones, born and unborn? Is there a crisis-pregnancy center that
could use help? Have I spoken well of parents who
are open to large families?
2. God´s Choice. For the ancient
Jews a name captured, even defined, a person´s identity. So
for Elizabeth to name her son "John" was significant. It
showed her recognition of God´s great plan for the child.
John was in the Almighty´s special care from the start.
Even today, each and every child is loved by God
and has a destiny in the heavenly Father´s plan. Each
has a vocation, a calling, in the Church. Do I
appreciate the role that little ones have in God´s plans?
Do I respect their dignity? Or do I try to
impose my prejudices on them? They are tomorrow´s adults. How
will I want them to remember my example?
Loosened Lips. Zechariah had doubted God and was struck mute.
He regains his speech only after publicly accepting God´s plan
and allowing his newborn son to take the name John.
Only when Zechariah gives his assent to God´s plan does
he regain his speech. We too might have a bit
of Zechariah in us. We resist God, only to hit
a dead end. Bad friendships, habits of serious sin, rising
despair -- all start to eat away at us. Yet,
repentance is slow to come. Why? "We think that evil
is basically good," said Pope Benedict XVI (Dec. 8, 2005).
"We think that we need it, at least a little,
in order to experience the fullness of being. … If
we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we
can see that this is not so; in other words,
that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings,
but degrades and humiliates them." Am I resisting God´s plans?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you have put family members
and other loved ones in my life for a reason.
I´m to help them get to heaven, and they are
to help me do the same. Often I forget this.
I forget that there is a purpose to each day,
a chance to grow in virtue. Remind me of this
truth, and help me in a special way not to
interfere with the plans you have for the children in
Resolution: I will pray a decade of the
rosary that all my family members reach heaven.