When Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited Elizabeth, her cousin and pregnant with John, “in the womb” John “leapt for joy.” “In the womb” he recognized and rejoiced at the closeness of our Savior.
All along, Zachary, Elizabeth’s husband and John’s father, is having quite a difficult time. He lost his ability to speak, because he was so unable to comprehend that “nothing is impossible for God.” He and Elizabeth would have a child, and that child would have a special role to play in God’s plan for salvation.
When old Zachary witnessed the birth of John, he was filled with faith, and could finally speak again. They were figuring out a name for the child and Zachary was the one who absolutely knew that the name given this promised child by the angel was “John,” a name which means “God is gracious.” So, when Zachary could say “God is gracious,” Zachary could speak again.
All of us began our lives tethered to another person in the womb. All of us entered the world from the womb, connected and related, nourished and in tune with. We live our lives, after the womb, trying to learn how to be an independent person who can be connected and related again, who can learn to be nourished and in tune more and more.
And, in many ways, we can’t speak, we can’t pray. We can’t enter into communion really, until we can acknowledge that “anything is possible with God.” Trusting, believing, testifying to the reality that “God is gracious” liberates us from our doubts and fears, our un-freedoms and our unloving.
At the end of his life, John was in Herod’s jail and he sent some of his friends to Jesus, with a question that was burning in his heart, “Are you the One?” John is about to let go of his life. His mission is complete. But, he doesn’t see the fulfillment. Like his father, he has to trust. Jesus sends the friends back with the words that must have made John’s heart leap for joy again: “Tell John what you see and hear. The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Dear Lord, thank you for being so generous, so compassionate, so full of possibilities. Open my eyes and my heart and increase my faith so that I can believe in your personal love for me and that I can share your love with others. Let me be in communion with you and therefore in communion with all those you love. Let me re-connect with someone today. Let there be a life-line of nourishment with someone who needs me. And, through John’s intercession, let me be prophetic in announcing the simple good news of your presence so very near us all.
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