A reading from the gospel according to Luke 1:57-66
57 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.
58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
60 but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”
61 But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
62 So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.
64 Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.
65 Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.
66 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.”
Reflection: Graced by God
The birth of a baby is always a happy occasion because every child is a gift from God. For the couple Zechariah and Elizabeth, the long-awaited child brought joy not just to them but to all their neighbors. Additionally, the unusual circumstance of the birth of John the Baptist became a hot topic among the villagers who became fearful and who were surely amazed at the work of God.
The name given to the child is John in English which is derived from the Hebrew Yohanan which means “graced by God or Yahweh is graceful.” Although it is a masculine name, it has its feminine counterpart such as Joan, Jane, Jeannette and Jacquiline. Its equivalent in Spanish is Juan. Other variants are Johannes, Johan, Jens, Jan, Jon, and Johnny.
Zechariah and Elizabeth have been blessed with a child even in their old age. The couple who had been the subject of ridicule for being infertile became the instrument for Yahweh to bring about the child who would be given the special mission to prepare the way of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. Indeed, God is gracious. He works in mysterious ways. When everything seems to be hopeless, He will do something amazing.