When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her and they rejoiced with her. When on the eighth day they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, «Not so; he shall be called John». They said to her, «No one in your family has that name»; and they asked the father by means of signs for the name he wanted to give. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote on it, «His name is John», and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again and his first words were in praise of God. A holy fear came on all in the neighborhood, and throughout the Hills of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds and wondered, «What will this child be?». For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.
What this child will become ? And the the fruit of this child will certainly depend upon the cooperation from our part. If we listen to God, and all that his child will proclaim be received and welcomed with an open heart, the becoming of this child has a meaning for us. In him God has chosen to accomplish what he has promised through the prophet Malachi.
The Gospel events of today’s gospel tell us that God is faithful to his promise. In order for this promise to be relevant in our times, we must, like Mary, know how to say YES on our part, ready to commit ourselves positively to it. Without this commitment, we cannot feel within us or discover around us this fulfillment of the divine will.
Is God dependent on our cooperation for his will to be accomplished? Certainly not, yet we are conditioned by our own humanity, by the grace of the freedom that God has granted us, to profit from this accomplishment. In order for God's will to be fulfilled in us, God does not want to take away the freedom He has granted us, in His freedom. God has His won way of doing it.
If this freedom, which is entrusted to us, is well exercised with responsibility, we will be able to share in the joy of Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and also with them, together we can give glory to God for his wonders. Together with Zechariah, we will sing 'Blessed be the God of Israel'. No one knew how God accompanied them all their lives. God continues to accompany us, just as He accompanied them quietly. Let us enter into the mystery of the Incarnation with Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Action of the day : Prepare your heart to welcome the New Born.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers:
The parallels between John and Jesus,
by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
"The elderly Elizabeth gave birth to the last of the prophets, and Mary, a young girl, to the Lord of the angels. The daughter of Aaron gave birth to the voice in the desert (Isaiah 63:9), but the daughter of David to the strong God of the earth. The barren one gave birth to him who remits sins, but the Virgin gave birth to him who takes them away (John 1:29). Elizabeth gave birth to him who reconciled people through repentance, but Mary gave birth to him who purified the lands of uncleanness. The elder one lit a lamp in the house of Jacob, his father, for this lamp itself was John (John 5:35), while the younger one lit the Sun of Justice (Malachi 4:2) for all the nations. The angel announced to Zechariah, so that the slain one would proclaim the crucified one and that the hated one would proclaim the envied one. He who was to baptize with water would proclaim him who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). The light, which was not obscure, would proclaim the Sun of Justice. The one filled with the Spirit would proclaim concerning him who gives the Spirit. The priest calling with the trumpet would proclaim concerning the one who is to come at the sound of the trumpet at the end. The voice would proclaim concerning the Word, and the one who saw the dove would proclaim concerning him upon whom the dove rested, like the lightning before the thunder." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON TATIAN'S DIATESSARON 1.31)