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The birth of John

Gospel Reading: Lk 1:57-66
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.

Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives see her giving birth to John as a sign of God showing his great mercy to her.

They are all amazed at this extraordinary childbirth. They see it as God’s intervention in her life, curing her sterility or, in Old Testament parlance, opening her womb. Elizabeth has earlier acknowledged this: “The Lord… has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others” (Lk 1:25). The joy of the people over John’s birth comes also as a result of their own prayers and expectations. One cannot rejoice over the miraculous birth if one has not long desired it. The event is not private, not only for the elderly couple. The neighbors and relatives have been following up the developments. In the naming of the child, God further shows mercy to Zechariah whose mouth is reopened. Nine months earlier, Zechariah was struck dumb for not quite believing God’s good news announced by the angel Gabriel (cf Lk 1:20). Once his mouth opens, Zechariah blesses God and sings his canticle, picking up the theme of God’s mercy (cf Lk 1:72, 78). John’s birth invites us to see children being conceived and born as God’s intervention of mercy in our lives and regain our capacity to be amazed and to rejoice with women giving birth.

Do you promote the culture of life? Are you in favor of zero population growth?

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.