Date: Sunday, June 24, 2018
We can only image the joy and the fear of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Married many years with no children. But now, in the sanctuary of the temple, Gabriel, the angel of God, appears to Zechariah, to announce that he will be a father. Zechariah is fearful and questions God’s plan. Dumbfounded, unable to speak, he returns home. Elizabeth conceives in her womb. She remains in seclusion and Zechariah remains silent until the birth of the their son. Something wonderful is taking place.
When the baby is born, the relatives and neighbors expect the boy to be named Zechariah to honor his father. But Elizabeth insists and Zechariah, still speechless, signs: “John is his name.” This is significant. The name “Zechariah” means “God remembers.” The name “John” means “God is gracious.” The parents realize that their son is not about the past but is born to lead the Jewish people into the future. Like Jeremiah and Isaiah, two great Jewish prophets, John is called, formed and destined in the womb to prepare the way of the Lord. His destiny is to become "the Baptist."
We are called, formed and destined at baptism to holiness. We are called to be saints, “holy nobodies.” Pope Francis writes in his exhortation "Rejoice and Be Glad": “Each saint is a mission planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a special moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel.” We are not “on mission.” We are “a mission” from God, sent to make the world holy. We must ask ourselves in what way are we bringing the goodness of Jesus Christ to others. It is both awesome and humbling.