MU Devotion 24th June – Nativity of John the Baptist
I wonder how many babies have been born during lockdown. Newborns whose first precious weeks have been missed by relatives who so desperately wanted to see them, to hug them and to speak to them.
John the Baptist may have been surrounded by his relatives and the villagers in the hill country in Judea when he was born but he too missed out initially. For the first eight days of his life John did not hear the voice of his father because when he was born his father could not speak. Then on the eighth day Zechariah suddenly regained his voice when he wrote on the tablet – ‘His Name is John’. Finally, the prophecy of the angel had been fulfilled and life could get back to some semblance of normal. Although for Zechariah and Elizabeth it was definitely a new normal, as they now had their longed-for child. Each day would be a day of discovery of the delights and challenges of being parents.
Zechariah may have had to wait nine months for the chance to express the joy he felt in the angel’s message. But when he could, when his isolation of being unable to speak to his loved ones was ended, he certainly made up for it. He proclaimed his feelings with an expression of joy that came through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Benedictus – his song of praise is beautiful and an integral part of many of our daily routines as we say morning prayer.
Yes, John had been conceived, carried, and born in strange circumstances and John’s future was not one which would delight many parents. But Zechariah chose not to focus on that, rather on the difference that John would make in the world as he fulfilled his call from God. John’s very presence showed just how awesome God is, just how much God cares for each and everyone of us. John’s birth is a sign of God’s plan for the salvation of all people as light comes into the darkness.
We have experienced a different sort of separation from that of Zechariah. He could not speak but he could see and touch those around him. We have been able to speak and possibly see through video chats, doorsteps and windows or more recently outdoor meetings. But we still cannot touch, hold, or hug our love ones. It will not go on forever and like Zechariah our separation will end. When we are finally able to embrace and touch our loved ones, we will be able to express our joy that God renews all things through the power of Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe we will not be quite as accomplished wordsmiths as Zechariah, but our sentiments will be the same:
In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel.
With all my love and prayers