Intention: We pray for a faith-filled and transforming Christmastime for our world, one that fills it with peace, justice, and good will toward all.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 1:57-66
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.”
Reflection for the Fourth Friday of Advent
In Shakespeare’s Romero and Juliet, the young lady Capulet dismisses the feud between her and Romeo’s families by asking, “What’s in a name?” Given the tragic end of the story, it would appear much. Consider the significance of a name. For all of our lives, our names are how we are known to everyone, including to ourselves. Ironically, our names are given to us before it is possible to really know who we are. So, we often are named after persons whose lives somehow connect us to a tradition or an ideal to which we can aspire, one that will infuse our lives with a certain meaning and dignity. The story of the naming of John the Baptist illustrates the bond between his name and the life he would lead. Similarly, all of us are called to discover to what part of the salvation story we were born to belong. “What, then, will this child be?” is a question that is more than wistful speculation. Author Frederic Farrar wrote, “If we would gaze on the star of our destiny, we must look for it in our hearts.” As children of God, our identity does not come from without, but is rooted within. Inside us lies the inescapable truth of who we were created to be and why. How we are known should speak to all of this inner light that is our best and truest self. The time of Advent is a time to reflect on what’s in a name, particularly our own.
Eternal Father, you sent John to prepare Jesus’ way in this world. As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of Christmas, fill us with the grace to bear witness to your Son. May our lives be marked by our zeal in proclaiming the good news that you are with us, and that our salvation has come to us in the birth of our Lord. Lead us to be instruments of your peace and righteousness, working to build your Kingdom and leading one another to know your presence and to welcome your Son into our hearts forever. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.