The Gospel for this feast has to do with the birth of John, but even more, his naming. Elizabeth and Zechariah are advanced in age and so the lack of fertility was seen to be a kind of curse. She is found to be pregnant and when her time for deliverance arrives he is born. All come to marvel and give God praise. The neighbors are from the hill country of Judea. They expect his naming at the circumcision to follow custom. His father, in the previous verses, is struck speechless by God for his questioning.
His mother announces his name to be John and his father is given a tablet and writes the name. Upon this writing, his speech returns giving thanks and praise to God. After the naming, John grows up and is the man in waiting for God’s time to be fulfilled.
Luke deliberately makes strong parallels between the births of John and Jesus. Being barren and being a virgin allows for a divine intervention. Gabriel appears to Zechariah announcing the “good news” of his being given a son. The annunciation to Mary of her having a son is presented by an angel and both are accompanied by prophetic words about their names and their missions. Both Mary and Zechariah have the same questions about how this was going to be since advanced age and Mary’s not being wedded, would prevent conception. Mary is given comfort and a kind of proof by her hearing that Elizabeth is with child for now six months and Mary can visit her and see for herself. Zechariah leaves his holy duties in the temple without the power to speak.
John is born to be the front-runner, the advance-publicity man for the coming on stage of Jesus. We are the co-runners who have been radiated by His Light and extend that Light to the ends of our neighborhoods, the end of our abilities, and to the end of our time.
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