The Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist
[Scripture Readings: Is 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80]
Once upon a time a group of high school girls started talking about the subject of marriage and what they would call the names of their children. One suggested that she would name her first two daughters Dawn and Melody. An objection was made by one of the assembly, “What will they do with names like that when they are middle aged and become elderly? The names just don’t fit at that stage.
In today’s Gospel reading, it seems that Zechariah was determined that at least for the time being there would be no Zechariah, Jr., in the household. Especially when the child’s name had been told by a visitor not of this world.
At one time in our lives when more than one hundred members were living here, we were not allowed to duplicate the religious name of another. And we did not use our family names as a backup on our mail. That meant that our baptismal and confirmation name was usually taken by another. This sent us to the calendar of saints where such exotic entrants abounded as Paphnutius, Arsenius, Pambo, and the full array of monastic gems in all their glory. Sometimes the name was imposed by the reigning superior. And sometimes we were allowed to choose our own. For many it meant it simply followed them to the grave. While others were to change it late in life.
At the Annunciation, the angel told Mary that here child would be called Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins. A greater Person or a greater Name has never arisen. His mission in life was manifest as he carried himself with his message of salvation even to his crucifixion, on display for all to see: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” And we are gathered here today so that his message and his ability to save becomes manifest in our own lives. God will help me at the dawning of the day. Joy comes with dawn.