The Birth of John
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Zechariah becomes “dumb” because of his unbelief in the news of the angel. But looking into the other characters of the story who is the real “dumb”?
The birth of John brings great joy to Zechariah,, Elizabeth, their “neighbors and relations.” This unnamed group recognizes the wonders God has done to the family but otherwise knows nothing of the deeper meaning of the birth. They even want to take charge of the naming of the child after the father. Elizabeth seems to have little to say in the matter and struggles to insist that the child be called John as the angel commanded. Zechariah finally breaks the deadlock by writing “John is his name.” his long silence is broken with his authoritative written declaration and with a beautiful canticle of praise – the Canticle of Zechariah.
Zechariah’s silence, Elizabeth’s struggle to be heard, the neighbor’s insistence on the conventional shows a significant contrast. They portray the many ways a person can express his/her conviction – voluntary or involuntary silence, persistence and courage despite suppression, assertiveness without knowing the deeper significance of the issue. The much-celebrated trial of the century with a President as the defendant depicts how people interpret the many sides of the “truth.” Where do I find myself when confronted by the truth? The objective truth leads to freedom. Freedom leads to happiness. Happiness leads to praise. Zechariah’s “dumbness” is transformed into a glorious canticle, the Benedictus, which the Church prays everyday. (Sr. Elaine Faith Taneo, SSpS, Bible Diary 2002)
A person’s name is important is important. That’s what he carries all his life, it determines his identity. One realizes more its importance in official documents. Just a wrong spelling here or there in a passport may cost him a string of troubles.
It’s interesting what the Bible says in Isaiah 49:1: “Yahweh called me from my mother’s womb; he pronounced mu name before I was born.”
That seems to be the case in today’s gospel. God himself determined the name “John” before this child was born; he was to prepare the way of the Messiah. When God plans something, his plans has to be followed up to the last detail. His word has to be believed. Zechariah, John’s father, lost his speech because he doubted the words of the angel, that his wife would bear a son even in her old age. Following God’s word, on the other hand, brings blessing, wonders and healing. When they were discussing what name they were to give, Zechariah insisted, “John is his name.” And the Scripture says, “Immediately his mouth as opened, his tongue freed and he spoke blessing God.”
Conforming with God’s plan is not easy. This had been the cause of the downfall of the angels (Rev. 12:7), of the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1), of troubles and conflicts between husband and wife and within the family and of wars between peoples and nations. To conform one’s will to that of another is most difficult. But whatever there is conformity of wills, there is peace, there is harmony, there is sharing, there is love. When one entrusts himself totally into God’s hands, things can only go right. This is what St. Paul wanted to express in Romans 8:28: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him, whom he has called according to his plan.” (Fr. Erasio Flores, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
In their book, Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner noted that parents name their children not after popular persons but after successful ones. It doesn’t matter what field they are in as long as they are the epitome of success. Recent popular names like Carter and Reagan (former presidents), and for some reasons biblical names like Samuel, Benjamin, Sarah are deemed “successful.”
The relatives of Zechariah therefore cannot understand his choice of the name John for his child. Most probably they didn’t know anyone named John much less a “successful and popular” John. For Zechariah, john was a name that connotes success and God’s special grace bestowed on his child. All of us have been given a special mission. Maybe our own name can give us a hint. (Fr. Boboy Jimenez, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
8th Day of Misa de Gallo, 23 December 2013: The hand of the Lord was with him…
Readings: Malachi 3: 1-4. 23-24; Luke 1: 57-66
The short reflection on the 9th day of Misa de Gallo is taken from the Gospel reading: “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’.” (Luke 1: 66).
We often marvel at the work of the Lord in our lives… these things we need to ponder in our heart allowing the hand of the Lord to touch our lives…
Yes, the touch of the Lord is the HEART of the matter in our spiritual journey.
Today, we are reminded of a passage from the Acts that echoes the core of our spiritual journey… the heart of our solidarity with all believers…
“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts (Acts 15: 8-9)
Many spiritual masters and directors claim that Spiritual Life is a matter of the heart. These are some of the famous phrases that point to this reality:
· Being single-hearted…
· A clean/purified heart…
· The heart of the matter…
· Religion of the heart…
· God dwelling in the heart…
· The ‘hand of the Lord is with us’…
Bapa Jun Mercado, OM facebook.com/jun.mercado
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Doubt As A Christian – (Luke 1:57-66) Homily
In the Gospel today there appears to be a message worthy of our reflection.
This reflection begins with The Father of John the Baptist, Zechariah. As we recall, the Angel of the Lord had appeared to Zechariah and informed him that his prayers had been heard.
The Angel stated that Elizabeth, his wife, would bear him a son, and that he would be happy and joyful.
The Angel reported that the son was to be named John, and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and that many of the children of Israel would turn to the Lord because of John. But Zechariah responded to the angel by stating “How shall I Know? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” He basically told the Angel that he didn’t believe him.
So upon hearing Zachariah’s doubt, the Angel Gabriel stated that Zechariah would become speechless and unable to talk until the day these things were to take place.
How many of us have ever wondered if our prayers are actually heard by God?
And not unlike Zechariah, when there is evidence that God has indeed heard our prayers and responded to them, how many of us somewhat doubt that God had anything to do with it?
We often quickly dismiss the event as something related to chance, to luck, maybe a good break, or even due to something of our own accord.
Why is it so difficult to think that when we ask for help from God, that he listens, and then he responds.
Isn’t it really that simple?
Or are we more like a doubting Thomas than we would want to admit. As humans, we have a tendency to doubt things at times, especially if we don’t see it with our own eyes.
Even John the Baptist, that person who had become and is a model of such faith, courage, and conviction even showed this weakness later in life.
John the Baptist, while in prison sent some of his followers to Jesus and asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? (Mt.11:3) In suffering he had forgotten the words that he had spoken on the Jordan River. “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29)
In our time of weakness, we are no different than Zachariah, or John the Baptist We doubt the grace of God. We doubt the love of God. Nothing would satisfy us more than to have Jesus appear right in front of us to convince us that he is here, that his grace is with us, and that he loves us, but then we would not have faith, we would have proof.
In moments when we are tired or sick, Satan uses these opportunities to place doubtful thoughts in our minds. Those are the moments when we must persevere the most in our faith, those are the moments when we must pray for each other.
Faith is a gift, it cannot be earned, it cannot be bought, it is a gift from God. We should thank God for the gift of faith that he has given to us, and never cease to ask God for growth in our faith, in our trust, and in our understanding of who He is.
As you are quite aware, we are rapidly approaching The Feast of Christmas.
We will be celebrating the visitation of God to His people. However we must not forget, it is a visitation that He makes everyday, and he remains continually with us.
As incredible and glorious as The Feast of Christmas is that God would become incarnate for us and he would take on our flesh and come into this world as one of us, so that he would be able to save us from our sins, this is the mystery that we celebrate, in essence, every single day. He remains with us always.
As we begin to prepare to celebrate this great Feast of Christmas and the glorious mystery of the incarnation and the birth of Christ, we look into our own hearts and we ask our selves:
How strong is my faith, My belief in God?
What type of doubts do I carry with me?
How much of my life, lived out daily, conforms with my professed beliefs.
Can I see God’s hand in the workings of my life?
Do I pray to God and then watch and listen for his response?
Am I living the mystery that I will celebrate on Christmas?
Am I prepared for Christmas? Spiritually!
Have I prepared within my heart; to be open to receive him into my life.
These are all questions that every Christian should make and seriously contemplate.
During the nine months of his wife’s pregnancy, Zechariah had time to reflect upon all that God had done for him and to meditate upon the goodness and the mercy of the Lord who cast his gaze upon his family, with the result that one of his descendants would be the one to proclaim to all the People of God the coming of the messiah!
Zechariah had a special purpose in his life. And through God’s grace fulfilled his special role.
John the Baptist, also, possessed a holy vocation that lead and prepared the path for our Lord.
Yet, we also are given a specific vocation, a calling, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to make known who Christ is to the world.
We are to be joyful, caring, and compassionate people, whom others will know and recognize as Christians by the way we love each other. We are to develop our gifts and to utilize them for the Glory of God.
We are to cast away our doubts, to nourish our faith, to live a life free of anxiety and fear, and to know we are loved beyond our understanding by the source of all love.
And there is no doubt…..very soon it shall be Christmas, and we shall adore, praise, and thank God for the greatest gift of all time: The gift of God who became man – Jesus Christ.
KABUTIHANG MAGPAKAILANMAN: Reflection for 8th Day of Christmas Novena -SIMBANG GABI – December 22, 2014 – YEAR OF THE POOR
Ano nga ba ang meron sa pangalan mo? Natanong mo na ba ang iyong magulang kung bakit ito ang pangalang na ibigay n’ya sa iyo? Karaniwang ang mga pangalan ay nanggagaling sa magulang kaya nga’t malimit na tayong makakita ng mga Jr, (junior) sa huli ng pangalan. Kung minsan naman ay pinagsamang pangalan ng tatay at nanay ang pangalan bata. Halimbawa ay Jomar sapagjkat ang tatay ay Jose at ang nanay ay maria. May kuwento na minsan daw ay kinausap ni Mommy Dionisia ang anak na si Manny. “Anak, gusto ko naman pag nagka-anak kayo uli ni Jinky, di lang pangalan ninyo ang pagsasamahin, Dapat kasali din pangalan ko!” “Oo naman nay, kasu midyu mahirap yun!” sagot ni Manny. “Hindi ah! May naesep na nga ako eh!” payabang na sagot ni Mommy D. “Talaga nay anu?” “Simple lang anak… DIOMANJI (Dionisa-Manny-Jinky)!” hehehe… Bakit nga ba JUAN ang pangalang ibinigay sa anak ni Zacarias at Elisabet? Kung susundin natin ang tradisyon ng mga Judio ay dapat na ibinigay sa kanya ang pangalang Zacarias tulad ng kanyang ama. Kaya nga laking pagkagulat ng mga taong naroon ng marinig na JUAN ang ipapangalan sa kanya sapagkat wala sa kanilang kamag-anak na may gayong pangalan. Ano ba ang nilalaman ng pangalang Juan? Sa wikang Ingles ang ibig sabihin ng Juan ay GOD IS GRACIOUS! Totoo nga naman, napakabuti ng Diyos sapagkat unang una ay tinanggal Niya sa kahihiyan ang pagiging walang anak ng mag-asawang Zacarias at Elisabet. Pangalawa ay sapagkat ang pagkapanganak kay Juan ay nagpapakita na nilingap ng Panginoon ang kanyang bayan sa kabila ng pagkasalawahan nito! Tunay ngang “God is good all the time and all the time God is good!” Hindi Niya binigo ng Diyos ang Kanyang bayan sa Kanyang pangako. Ang Diyos nanatiling TAPAT sa tao. Tunay ngang hindi mapapantayan ang katapatan ng Diyos sa atin. Sa kabila ng katigasan ng ating mga ulo ay ipanagpatuloy pa rin Niya ang planong kaligtasan! Tayo lang naman kasing mga tao ang nagtataksil at may pusong salawahan. Madalas nating ipagpalit ang Manlilikha sa kanyang mga nilikha! Sa katunayan ay ito ang kahulugan ng kasalanan ayon kay San Agustin. “Aversio a Deo, conversio ad creaturam!” (Turning away from God and turning towards creatures!) Ilang beses ko na bang ipinagpalit ang Diyos sa mga makamundo at mga materyal na bagay (o kahit tao)? Kung minsan naman ay hindi natin pinaninindigan ang pangalan ni Kristo na ating tinanggao noong tayo ay bininyagan. Ang masama pa nga ay ikinahihiya natin ito sa tuwing hinihingi nito ang ating pagsaksi, Simpleng pagdarasal bago kumain sa isang fastfood restaurant o kaya naman ay pag-aatndanda ng krus pagdaan ng jeep sa isang simbahan ay ating ipinagwawalang bahala dala marahil ng kahihiyan na rin sa ating mga katabi. Paano pa kaya kung buhay na natin ang hinihingi para panindigan ang ating pangalang Kristiyano? Huwag sana nating biguin ang Diyos kung paanong di Niya tayo bilang Kanyang bayan! Patuloy Niya tayong liingapin sa kabila ng ating pagkamakasalanan. Sapagkat Siya ay Diyos na mabuti…. napakabuti! At ang kanyang kabutihan ay magpakailanman! Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
See Today’s Readings: Year I, Year II
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