Lk 1:57-66, 80
57When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 59When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, 60but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” 61But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” 62So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 63He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. 65Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. 66All 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.
80The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The Gospel describes the birth of John the Baptist. Stricken dumb for doubting the angel’s word that his wife would bear a son (Lk 1:20), Zechariah writes, “John is his name.” Immediately Zechariah’s mouth is opened, his tongue is freed, and he speaks to bless and praise God.
John is a shorter Hebrew version of Yehohanan, which means “Yahweh is gracious” or “Yahweh has shown favor.” John is God’s gift to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. He is a gift to the whole world as he will prepare people to know, recognize, and accept the awaited Messiah.
The neighbors of Zechariah and Elizabeth are amazed at what they witness; fear comes upon them. And they wonder what the child will be, seeing that the hand of the Lord is with him. Indeed, the Lord’s hand is with John. John is the man whom God has chosen for an important mission. God guides him and gives him the necessary courage and determination to play his role in God’s plan of saving mankind.
In our lives God sends people to assist us. They are our guides and protectors. As God’s gifts, they are our “Johns.” Through them, we can feel the Lord’s hand leading us back to him. Whenever we are down, hurting, or broken, God touches, helps, and heals us. Through our Johns we can feel that God is alive and with us, that we are close and dear to God.
Who are the people who have been Johns or God’s gifts to us?
In turn, have we been Johns to others?