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Day 8:  December 23

Reflection on Luke 1: 57-66

Nguyen Thong, SVD


I believe that all of us who gathering here have had the experience of joy and happiness when in family have a new born or new baby. Especially those who got marriage and long time waiting for a baby, they will be so happy when God grants them to have a child. The Gospel today tells us the story of joy and happiness of family Zechariah- Elizabeth and all their neighbors when the old couple gave a first-born: the birth of John the Baptist. There are many events that happen in the Gospel to day. Let me enumerate them: The birth of the child brings great rejoicing to the couple, their relatives and neighbor; the child was named John instead of his father’s name; Zechariah was had dumb now speaks and praise to God, and all people surprise and say: what, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.


            First of all, the whole story gives us an ideal of rejoice, happiness because God has done a great thing for Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. (Lk 1: 57- 58). We understand and recognize more the meaningful and the blessing of God if we put this story in the context of the Jewish people. According to the point of view of the Jews that those who got marriage without have a child is a great guilt or an unblessing for them. We can see this problem in the story of Hannah she was so sad and suffering because she did not have a son. But she was patient in praying and God accepted her prayer and Hannah gave birth: Samuel in her old age. (1 Sam 1: 1-20).


The birth of John shows that God is blessing those who trust in Him. God gave the great happiness for the couple in their old age. Actually, every time in the family have a newly born that makes the happiness for all members of family especially for the parents of the child. Three years ago, I had an occasion to attend the Baptism of newly born on Sunday Mass in a parish in Cebu. The parish priest made the integrated Mass. (Celebration of Baptism in Holy Mass). There was an event that made me surprised very much, that before the Priest gave a final blessing he asked the young couple who had the first child to express their feeling and reflection when they became the parents of the child. A husband moved to tear (he was crying because he was so happy) and he said that he was so happy because the first time he had a baby; and the child made he became a “father”. He was so happy when he heard his wife informed that she had pregnancy. From that moment he understood how his parents were happy when they gave birth of him. He said that his child is the gift of God that gave to him, his child made him happy and he could not express how happy he was. From this story we can understand how Zechariah and Elizabeth, their relatives and neighbors were happy when they have the birth of John.

From the joy and happiness of the birth of John, people were so surprised that Elizabeth and Zechariah named the child is John instead the father’s name as the tradition of Jews. In the Gospel, St Luke did not mention the meaning of  John” but according to Raymond E. Brown the name of John means: “Yahweh has shown favor.” Later on when we look at the life of John the Baptist, we understand that he the one who prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. John identified himself: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” John is a forerunner of Jesus to prepare his way.

The birth of John was an unexpected gift and a special gift. The fidelity of the old couple to God, their readiness to respond to God’s will won for them this singular honor of having a son that foretold the coming of the Messiah. They did not choose the privilege of being parents to John. God choose them. That is the gift from God to give for Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and I think that it is also the gift for all of us because he is the one introduced Jesus for us. Every time when the Advent season comes, we are prepared ourselves by the reminder of John the Baptist. Therefore, the birth of John is also the gift for us.

The event Zechariah was dumb during the time Elizabeth had pregnancy, because of his unbelief in the news of angel. When Elizabeth gave birth of John; and named him with the name: John; then Zechariah recovered his speech, it also was something new. John the Baptist was born when his parents in the old age, and all the happenings that surrounded the concept and birth of the child beyond the ordinary that point out the idea that “the hand of God was with him”. Today, when we listen to the gospel, we are reminded that, this is the time for us to look back in our lives and prepare ourselves for welcoming the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Do we prepare ourselves enough by make a good place in our heart for Jesus Christ? Do we prepare ourselves to reconcile with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do we make an effort to be harmony with our neighbors by forgiveness their all mistakes during this Advent season?

Although John is only a forerunner of Jesus, the birth of John was an event that made the old couple, their relatives and their neighbors to be happy. The season Advent is the time for us to prepare our selves for welcome our Savoir. Christmas is not only the recall of an event that happened more than two thousands year ago, but Christmas is ongoing event and truly Jesus Christ is our Lord who comes and stays among us, because he is Emmanuel: God be with us. Jesus gives us really joy and happiness because he is the Truth, the Life and the Path. The importance for us is we should prepare ourselves and let him comes into our hearts, our minds and our souls. Let the Christmas becomes the joyful, happiness and peace by making the harmony with God and good relationship with our neighbors. Amen.