“And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” (Luke 1:59-60)
Today happens to be the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. Birthdays are always great days; they give us some time to reflect on the life of the celebrant, how he or she came to be born, and the impact of their lives upon humanity.
From the life of John the Baptist, we can see that no human life comes into existence by a mere random act. God is the one who brings human beings to life and long before we come out of our Mothers’ wombs, God already has a plan for our life.
John the Baptist was not yet born before God sent an Angel to Zechariah his father telling him how he would have a son despite his old age who will prepare the way for the Messiah. Long before John the Baptist was formed in the womb, he already existed in the mind of God. This is what the Prophet Isiah relates in our first reading: “The Lord called me from the womb, from my mother’s womb he named my name…”
Each time we commit or consent to Abortion, we commit a very grave sin! Abortion is the greatest act of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. By killing an unborn baby, we deny him or her the chance to live out the plans God already has for them. God will never allow a baby to form in the womb if He does not have plans for the baby. It is an act of extreme wickedness to destroy precious human life in the womb.
Names are not merely means of identification; names are spiritual. A person’s name can affect his or her life. Our Gospel passage today is a record of the naming ceremony of John the Baptist. The people were planning to call him Zechariah after his father or “Junior” because they felt he would re-live his father’s life. But Elizabeth and Zechariah knew that this child had a destiny different from that of his father so they both opted for “John” instead.
We must be careful of the kind of names we give our children. Names mean a lot. Notice that it was only after naming the child that Zechariah’s speech returned. And guess what, Zechariah who used to complain and doubt a lot became a changed person; he sang the Benedictus, a song of praise to God, a song similar to that of Mary when she visited Elizabeth.
The people wondered: “What will this child turn out to be?” This is the same question we should ask ourselves each time we come across little children. Every child deserves respect, care, and love because you can never know what the future of that child would be.
Our second reading sums up the life of John the Baptist. He fulfilled his destiny. He prepared the way for Jesus. He drew people’s attention only to end up saying: “I, am not he. No, but after me, one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.” The moment John the Baptist said that he had reached old age. He had finished his work and was now prepared to bow out.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, increase my respect for the life of the unborn. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Bible Study: Isaiah 49:1-6, Ps. 139:1-3,13-15, Acts 13:22-26, Luke 1:57-66,80)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu