Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist
Today's feast came upon me suddenly and unexpectantly because I was is such a rush and hurry, I wasn't paying attention to the Church calendar. It makes perfect sense, however, to celebrate the nativity of St. John 6 months priority to the nativity of Our Lord. Scripture says that Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant with a child she was to have a child after many years of barrenness. Mary went to visit Elizabeth after the annunciation by the angel Gabriel. John leapt in the womb at the approach of His Lord, the One whom John would announce to the world. Mary stayed three months, presumably to assist in the delivery of her cousin's child. Six months later, she would have her own miracle child, the Saviour of the world, the mighty King, God the Son.
The naming of the child "John" was quite unusual. Most firstborn sons were named after the paternal grandfather, but naming them after their father was not unheard of either. Giving the child a name completely different then a male relative was rare indeed. John means "Yahweh has shown favor." It is a reference to Zechariah and Elizabeth finally being shown favor by having a child. But, it is also a reference to how God is showing favor to the world by sending the saviour, with John as 'Elijah' to His King.
On the news I saw a wonderful celebration of this feast of St. John. In San Juan, Philippines, people were throwing water on each other, spraying each other with water guns, and splashing each other. I thought what fun to have in a city named for Saint John on the feast day of the one who brought us the baptism that Christ would later command His disciples to do ("Go and preach to all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." citation omitted)
Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.