June 23, 2022
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, Graduate School
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

What is the story of your name?  When I serve as a discussion facilitator, this question is a one I use frequently to help people introduce themselves to one another.  The stories might reveal perspectives on family of origin, sources of inspiration and connections to friends, culture and faith.

Today on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist we learn the story of how John got his name.  The stories surrounding the birth of John the Baptist have always been quite engaging for me with a special focus on Elizabeth becoming a mother later in life and her relationship with Mary the mother of Jesus.

As I pray with today’s gospel from Luke, through Ignatian contemplative prayer, I enter the scene of people gathering for ceremony for John’s circumcision.  In contemplative prayer we can bring the scripture to life by using our imagination and engaging our senses.  This can be a powerful way to hear God.   As I imagine the scene, I see the many friends, neighbor and family members tightly gathering in the main room of the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah.  The temperature outside is warm on this sunny day and the temperature inside the room continues to climb.  We have a celebratory mood for this precious and long awaited baby.  I can also sense hunger anticipating the delicious food and drink we will enjoy after the ceremony.

As the time for the ceremony draws closer, I am focusing on visiting with friends I have not seen for some time as I am assuming that tradition will prevail and this baby will be named Zechariah.  There is a collective gasp when Elizabeth announces the name John.  All eyes turn to Zechariah to settle this matter and claim his namesake.  In the months since Zechariah was stricken mute we have been seeing him with suspicion and confusion so we are unsure about what is going to happen next.  Once Zechariah wrote the name John on the tablet he begins speaking in praise of God.  This is almost too much for me to handle as I wandered over to enjoy a party and now I am facing these powerful experiences.  We do not know how to understand what is happening, but my friends and I know that we are witnessing something from God.  We are beginning to understand that this baby is not simply a baby who was long awaited by his parents but a “miracle baby” who is destined for great things.

As my imagination leaves the scene of the party I open my heart and listen carefully for the voice of God.  I ask God to show me times I have been stricken metaphorically mute by not putting my abiding faith in God.  I pray for the courage to speak up for those who have been denied the opportunity to speak for themselves… people experiencing poverty, illness, incarceration, violence, shame, homelessness.  I thank God for reminding me that I am surrounded by the support of family, friends and neighbors especially in those moments when I feel alone.

And today I pray for my strong and resourceful grandmothers, Mary and Lena, who were the inspiration for my name.

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