Scripture: Lectionary 200, Dec.23. Malachai 3:1-4.23-24. Psalm 25:4-5,8-9, 10.14. Luke 1:57-66
Almost like a summary for the first three weeks of Advent, we turn again to the person of John the Baptist. His birth is central to the mystery of salvation history and the plan of God has for all humankind. Today we learn of his birth, his circumcision, and his naming; the naming is what the Evangelist develops more completely in this pericope.
This child will grow up as a Nazarite just as Samson did, but there will be no deviations from his role in the history of God’s Chosen people. Unlike Samson there is no Dalilah in his life experience. He is rather the voice crying out in the desert, “ Prepare ye the way of the Lord. His name is indicative of his ministry, namely he is a grace and a gift for humankind—Johannan imples the grace of God is with him.
Not only will he be the one who prepares the way, he will be the forerunner of the Christ, the herald of the Messiah, and the witness to the Word of God, Jesus.
Both Elizabeth and Zachary agree on the name John; Joseph and Mary have agreed on the name Jesus. Thus the two are seen in tandem in the early chapters of Luke who contains to paint such parallel pictures with his splendid writing.
Our prophet for this Advent Day is Malachai who announces the Day of the Lord and also predicts the role of Elijah in the history of Israel. Jesus will tell us that John is the new Elijah who is to point to the Messiah. He does this throughout his short life. He will be martyred by Herod but his witness endures forever and his spirit has never left humankind. He is among the greatest of all those who have been born.
Today we are helped by the Evangelist who gives us the Benedictus or the Psalm of Zachary. This shows us how Elizabeth and he prepared carefully for their son and had some intuition of his great role in the history of Israel. Even Josephus gives us more authentic information about him than he does about Jesus. Both secular history and sacred history are combined in his person.
Luke is very much aware of his significance as he tell us: “ The Law (Torah) and the prophets were in force until John. From his time on, the good news of God’s kingdom has been proclaimed and people of every sort are forcing their way into it.” (Luke 16:16).
Today we can meditate on that very important verse in Luke and also look back into how John’s father Zacahary pointed out the importance of this baby who would announce the coming of the Lord. The benedictus is found in Luke 1:67-79. The first chapter of Luke says in its last line: “The child grew up and matured in spirit. He lived in the desert until the day when he made his public appearance in Israel.” (Luke 1:80). Nature and Grace gave one another a kiss when he was born. Amen.