The 24th June we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. His birth gave joy not only to his parents but also to the Jewish people at large. For us today, what joy are celebrating? And what can we implore God on this occasion?
Bible Readings Isaiah 49: 1-6 Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-15 Acts 13: 22-26 Luke 1: 57-66, 80
When nothing seems to be happening
It happens, at certain times, there are things that we intend to achieve or have in our lives. Unfortunately, it happens also that no matter how we apply ourselves to make that dream come true -nothing comes out of our effort. We pray, pray, and pray; it’s like God is too busy to answer. Despair! But it’s not the last word.
God has been gracious to the parents of John
From our own experience we can understand well what may have been the feeling of Zachariah and Elizabeth who, during long time desired to have a child. Certainly, they prayed for that but, I can imagine, at a certain point, they just said to themselves -no hope anymore. They may have felt helpless and forgotten. Were they?
However, the time when they least expected to have a child, John was conceived. That’s why his birth must have a source of greater joy than any other ordinary birth. No wonder, even the name of the baby, indeed, expresses perfectly what this birth meant.
John, in Hebrew, means God is gracious or God is merciful. Then, we can appreciate what a seizing joy it must have been! And his tongue loosened Zachariah, with his wife Elizabeth, couldn’t but exult in praise of God who looked at them with mercy.
We can think of many persons who because of one reason or another have their tongue tied. They can’t find it in their heart to rejoice or praise God. So, it’s an occasion to have thoughts and prayers for them, especially those struggling to have a child. May they too see a day of joy, like Zachariah and Elizabeth.
God has visited his people
Not Zachariah and Elizabeth rejoiced in the birth of John; in fact, it was the joy of the entire Jewish people. Why?
Prophets played an important role among the Jews, particularly, in assuring the people during difficult times. For sure, there were times when they reprimanded the people in strongest terms, nevertheless, that does not take away from the fact that the word of a prophet was like a sign of God’s presence; so, the people felt assured and accompanied. That’s why at a certain time they lamented, look how reduced we have become, humiliated; we have no priest, no prophet… (cf. Azariah 1:15).
Imagine, since Malachi the last prophet, 400 years passed before the birth of John the Baptist. It’s like the light has been switched off. But with the birth of John, the prophet would not only announce the coming the messiah, but also indicate his presence among the people. Hearing the voice of the prophet, even though with its fiery tone, it’s daybreak for the people. That’s how, by the birth of John, God had been gracious not only to Zachariah and Elizabeth but also to the entire nation.
John in your own life
That God is gracious isn’t just a biblical story; in our lives too, we can identify moments where we can say: indeed, God has been merciful to me. And so, even though currently we may be going through difficult times we can always fall back onto God who’s ever faithful in his love. Whatever the situation, thus, we can rest assured that God will be gracious to us.
We pray for women, and families, waiting for the birth of a baby; that the marvel of new life may lead them to the joy of knowing God, the author of life. And we pray also, that our world may have more voices of prophets who promote a better and more human world, according to the will of God.
Simply give your address, and you will have posts in your email box