Luke 1: 57-66: The Naming of John the Baptist
The Gospel unfolds during the eighth day since childbirth. The eighth day was the day designated for circumcision and the naming of the boy (a girl’s naming happens within 30 days). During the time of Jesus, the naming of a boy was an important occasion where friends and families meet. The naming of a child is descriptive. It can be by circumstance attending the child’s birth (Esau and Jacob), a description of the child (Laban means white or blond), a parental name (Saul/Samuel), what one asked for, and historical significance (e.g. Elijah: “Jehovah is my God” a testimony when Elijah’s parents asserted their faith in the time of Baal worship).
In the past, names are given with meaning, not just because it was a popular name, or it was nice to hear. A child was named according to a saint such as Antonio, Juan,
When Zechariah named his son, John, he meant several things. First, John means Jehovah’s gift or God is gracious, an acknowledgement of the truth surrounding John’s birth. Second, it is a discreet way of showing gratitude to God. Finally, it is obedience to God: it is the name which God asked Zechariah to name his child. Despite the people’s expectation to name the child after his father or ancestors, Zechariah defied convention if it was God’s will. Zechariah then proved his trust in God’s word, and finally regained his voice. Because of this, people began to wonder what the child will turn out to be.
A child is a bundle of possibilities. You will never know who they will turn out to be. For parents, a child is reason enough to thank God for. On the other hand, a child is his parents’ supreme responsibility. Often it depends on parents and those who stand in their place such as teachers, family members, friends how these possibilities will or will not be realized.
For many of us, we therefore look back on how we have contributed or not contributed to another person’s realization of their growth and possibilities. We first take into consideration ourselves, and see how others contributed or not contributed to our growth as persons. We look at our relationships in the family, with our friends, at our school or workplace and see how they are helping you grow and realize your possibilities. Finally, we look at ourselves: how do we contribute or stifle another person’s growth and the realization of their possibilities.
*my photograph of flora in Mirador, Baguio City.