Friday, June 24, 2011

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (six months before the nativity of Our Lord of course)

 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Lk 1:67-79)

The icon of the Nativity of St. John the forerunner.
A prayer we pray often, the canticle of Zechariah, father of the Prophet John the baptist. The very first thing the great man was able to say after being struck dumb for his lack of faith in the humbling presence of the Angel of the Lord who had told him of the coming of his son.  I always say that if the Lord strikes you dumb the first thing out of your mouth when he rights you again had better be good, and Zechariah did not disappoint did he? How difficult it must have been to have gone through his wife's pregnancy so late in both of their lives and to do so without being able to speak at all. To have the Blessed Virgin, the ark of the new covenant, already with Child herself come to visit and to serve Elizabeth during the sixth month and last trimester of Elizabeth's pregnancy and not even to be able to welcome the Mother of our Lord into your humble abode with your own mouth. To go through the ups and downs of the 9 long months before the birth of your first child with your wife, only able to communicate your love and affection for your bride with nonverbal gestures and communication. This was the great suffering Zechariah endured for his lack of faith, an instant of doubt that I myself, I am sure would have embraced. How many men would have heard the words of the Angel and believed immediately? The message he heard was such a blessing and he doubted, a man so imminently familiar with the scripture as he was and he could not, initially, believe.  It is a very striking story, far too relatable and close to home for me honestly. How many times has the Lord called upon me and my response was to look for any way I could to doubt, to run, or to cower? Like so many of those called by the Lord, Zechariah does not have the spirit to accept sight unseen the message and calling the Lord had placed upon him. The Lord calls us all and makes demands of us all and how often do we look for anything else to do? I am so blessed, we all are, that the Lord is so patient with us, willing to let us find Him, or even better still to 'strike us dumb' when we most need it. I am sure that Zechariah spent so much of his silent time in prayer to our Lord, God the Most High. As a new father myself I know I couldn't have gotten through the birth of my son and all the months of his gestation without prayer, deep meaningful prayer, intimate time with the Lord. Funny enough one of the prayers I prayed very often was the Canticle of Zechariah(used frequently in the daily prayers of the Church), one of the three great canticles offered at the beginning of Luke's account of the Gospel. I can't imagine what I would feel or what I would do if an Angel of the Lord brought me a message, especially not one so profound as Zechariah received. I can only speculate how greatly I would tremble and how riveted my faith life would be. I would like to think that I would come around like Zechariah, but of course some people never do, despite all of the Lord's patient pleadings and callings. I pray regularly that I will answer the Lord as He calls to me and regardless of the content of the message that  He needs me to hear that I have the grace and the faith to come to the call. 

Then again, if anyone ever hears of me going months without a peep, we will all know the Lord is giving me the time to reconsider faith in His Goodness and Truth.


  1. Oh how I love those ancient Icons of the Church. They say so much without all of the rigour of the renaissance masters methods.

  2. Why thank you george's son's I appreciate that and completely agree. Fly Guy, pick up the slack... ha.