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22 Jun

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Advocating with Our Voices

Many of us use Lectio Divina when praying with Scripture. When we do that, we read the Scripture multiple times and identify words that stay with us, words that “find us,” words that catch our attention perhaps in ways they never have before. Upon further reflection or meditation, we often find that those words or phrases speak to our minds, hearts, and lives. They call us to change our minds, hearts and lives in some way. This is how we describe conversion. This is how we become followers of Jesus.

This Wednesday morning, the story of the Birth of John the Baptist spoke to me in several specific ways. The image above helps! “They rejoiced with her.” It is incredible, miraculous that a woman of Elizabeth’s age, an advanced age, gives birth to a child. The message: All things are possible with God, if it is God’s will, God’s intention. God dwells in possibilities; hope lives.

The second awareness I gained is that Elizabeth used her voice to name the child. The angel announcing her pregnancy told her that the child’s name would be John. Over the protests of those representing the custom of carrying on the family legacy, the culture of naming the child after the father, Elizabeth won’t have it and gives the name John. Suddenly Zechariah is cured of his inability to speak and repeats what Elizabeth had already said. (Sound familiar to anyone?) Definitively, his name was to be John.

What’s in a name and who does the naming? It matters, doesn’t it? Zechariah Jr.’s name would mean “God remembers.” John’s name means “God is gracious.” Birthing in advanced age for women is a bold action. Having a woman determine the name is a bold action. Both were God’s action in Elizabeth’s life.

From this rather revolutionary (turning things around, sometimes upside down) birth, we have John the Baptist. John was born to lead Jesus into a new future. He lived his life to prepare the way, a way of life that turns remembering into graciousness.

For me, there are connections to what we are experiencing in Texas right now. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus always stood with the most vulnerable. What would Jesus say? What would Jesus do? Do we see Jesus in the children? Do we see Jesus in the mothers?

What conversion of mind, heart and life is Jesus asking of me? How do I name what is happening? How do I use my voice to advocate for those vulnerable ones, the ones Jesus called “the least among us?”
With tears in my eyes and a heart breaking with empathy, I have to believe that with God all things are possible. And I also know that like Elizabeth, others joined her in belief and joy. Others confirmed her naming and made radical change possible. May it be so for us!

Can we follow Jesus in his action for love above law?