When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her and they rejoiced with her.
When on the eighth day they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name”; and they asked the father by means of signs for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again and his first words were in praise of God.
A holy fear came on all in the neighborhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.
Zechariah was a priest. Elizabeth belonged to the descendants of Aaron. Undoubtedly, John was a Levite, and his destiny should have been to practice the Jewish priesthood. However his vocation was another to be the last and greatest of the prophets, the forerunner of the Messiah.
Today we read the narrative of his circumcision, and the imposition of his name, John, according to prophecies.
John is from the tribe of Levi – priests –, and Jesus from Judah – kings – but both will act as prophets.
However, in the reading of Malachi the Messiah appears as purifying the priestly office: “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made”.
Jesus is the Messiah, and the Church is the messianic People of God. May Jesus accomplish anew this “purification of the sons of Levi”, i.e. the priests of the New Covenant. May the Holy Spirit renew in them the strength of John the Baptist, to turn the hearts of the fathers towards their children and the hearts of the children towards their fathers, to prepare for the Lord a perfect people, with the support of consecrated persons and lay faithful in the Church and for the world.
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