“And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they all marvelled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.” (Luke 1:62-64)
News goes around the neighbourhood that the “barren woman” has given birth. Many who have laughed and mocked a while come to see things for themselves. What name would this child be called?
Surely, it would make sense to name him “Zechariah” after his father. Zechariah once doubted and for this, he lost his power of speech. The Angel Gabriel was quite clear: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:13).
If despair had made Zechariah doubt, would he allow pride to make him disobey? In his silence, he must have thought carefully on the choice he was about to make. In the meantime, Elizabeth his wife spoke up: “Not so; he shall be called John.” (Luke 1:60)
This was a Patriarchal society. They were going to ignore Elizabeth and hear from Zechariah himself. So they gave Zechariah a writing tablet. Note: Zechariah’s power of speech did not return once Elizabeth conceived, his speech did not return for nine whole months of pregnancy, his speech did not return upon the baby’s delivery. It was only after Zechariah wrote “His name is John” that he regained his power of speech.
What does this teach us? Perhaps, if Zechariah had chosen to disobey Angel Gabriel’s instruction, he probably would have remained dumb. Let us learn to swallow our pride and obey God’s instruction even if we do not understand.
Once he gained his power of speech again, Zechariah knew this was no ordinary child. He knew at once that this was not merely a product of his body but the work of God. He knew immediately that this child was the one spoken of by the prophet Malachi as the “messenger to prepare the way before me.” (Today’s first reading). Zechariah opened his mouth to sing a song of thanksgiving.
There may a lot of things to complain about in your life, you may have a lot of reasons to be angry with God but remember that if you still have the power to speak, use your lips to praise God.
Let us pray: God our Father, give us the grace to obey you more and more. Amen
Bible Study: Malachi 3:1-4,23-24, Ps. 25, Luke 1:57-66).