In Hebrew, the name John literally means God is Gracious.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were both advanced in age. Evidently, Elizabeth was deemed as already incapable of bearing a child. Still, she was blessed.
Let me give you a perspective of this event. It was very important for a Jewish couple to be blessed with a child. A marriage that was not blessed with children was always considered to be cursed, as being punished by God. That is why for Elizabeth and Zechariah, the blessing given to them in the form of John was, more importantly, a sign of God’s predilection for both of them.
It was customary that a child in a Jewish family be named after the father because the child would perpetuate the name of the family. Even with us Filipinos, we believe that a male heir is important to perpetuate the family name. Someone has to carry the family name. That was the same with the Jews. They named their sons after their own fathers so that the name of the father would be perpetuated.
And yet Zechariah refused. No one in the family was named John and yet the baby was named John. Why? For one basic reason. A birth is not supposed to be a perpetuation of the past.
A birth is supposed to signify a new beginning. God is not in the past. God is in the present. God gives us hope for the future.
Every birth is an occasion to look into the future. Every birth is an occasion of hoping, much hoping.
Let me tell you that, everyday, the Lord gives us a new birth, a good beginning. Everyday, when the sun rises, the Lord gives birth to a new day for us. When you go to confession, the Lord gives a new birth for your soul because you are totally washed clean. Everyday, when you receive Holy Communion and you leave the church after having partaken of the Holy Eucharist, is also a new birth for you. We are always given a fresh beginning by the Lord because God is not in the past. God is in the present, God gives us hope for the future.
So many graces are lost, so many people are in trouble, so many tears are shed, and so many nights are spent sleeplessly because we continually dwell on the past. We carry so much of the past. A shameful past, a sinful past. It is a past that we can never be proud of, we would rather not talk about. Yes, let us not talk about that. Let us entrust them to the mercy of God. God does not perpetuate the past. God is in the present. God gives us hope for the future.
Let the Feast of St. John the Baptizer renew in us that longing for the freshness of the spirit. God is not in the past. The past is past. God gives us a fresh beginning. Let us correct the mistakes of the past now. Stop crying over spilled milk. Let us not allow the ghost of our past sins to continually haunt us. Let us dwell in the present. Let us look to God full of hope into the future.
GOD IS GRACIOUS
Only Jesus, Always Jesus