Gospel: Lk 1:57-66, 80
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 made signs to his father 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.
There was communal joy when Elizabeth finally gave birth to a son. It was not only her pregnancy but of the community as well. Hers is to address her barrenness and have a biological child from her own womb. The community’s hopes and dreams that Yahweh their God once again walk on their land is revived. And so naming the child was a communitarian affair as well. For names in ancient times point to one’s destiny as well. They have to be careful. This miracle child is too precious to be impeded later on by an inappropriate name.
And so they were surprised when the mother named the child contrary to public opinion. They want to validate it with the father who is still mute and deaf at that time. And when he confirmed what his wife’s choice of name is, then his tongues were loosened. Heaven sanctioned the name. God’s graciousness descend on the land that day. The people’s hopes were validated. It is now incarnated in the child.