John is his name, because God is Gracious

December 23, 2019 – Monday of the 4th Week of Advent

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The Lord promised to send a Messiah who will come to us in order to save us. But before the Messiah will come, a person shall be sent first to serve as a herald who will prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah. This herald will not only announce the coming of the Messiah but he too will lead the people to recognize who the Messiah is.

In the prophecy from the Book of Malachi, this person shall lead and gather the people to see God. He will be like a refiner’s fire who will teach and correct the wrong of the people. In this way, this person will lead the people to repentance to fully welcome the Lord. The birth of this person is not by accident but planned well by God.

We have heard in the first reading how Malachi described God sending the messenger who is also the message himself of God. This means that the life of this person is the message of God to make the people prepare themselves for God’s coming. This is God’s promise that is  to be first fulfilled through the participation of humanity, through us.

The Gospel reveals further to us how God planned everything so that we will be able to recognize Him. The birth of John was announced to an old couple, to Zachariah and Elizabeth. For the Jews, if a couple has no child, it means that they are not favored by God and worst they too believed that the couple are cursed. 

However, to the surprise of this old couple an angel announced that they will have a son.  Elizabeth welcomed the message from God, but her husband, because it was too much to believe could not accept God’s gift. That is why, Zechariah was silenced by God. He only recovered his voice when his son was born. It was when he gave the name John to his son that the Lord opened his mouth again because the Lord is gracious. Yes, the name John or Johannes means the Lord is gracious. Zechariah realized that his son is God’s message to him.

The birth of John is a divine manifestation that God is indeed gracious and faithful despite our unbelief and doubts. God continues to reveal himself to us even though we refuse to believe.

This was the role of John and that was to bring people again to believe that God has never abandoned us. God remembers and He is here with us. This made John a great and important prophet because he reminded the people about God, made people recognize God and brought them close to God. He was indeed a refiner’s fire because he challenged the people’s way of life and called them to get out from their comfort zones of power, influence, abuse, sin and corruption.  Yet, because of this role of John, it caused John’s life. He was martyred, beheaded actually, because of this cause to make people recognize that God is gracious

For all of us, we may ask ourselves, “What is God’s plan for me now? What does God want me to be now? Is there also a divine purpose of my life?” 

We are called today to be the modern John the Baptist of God. Yes, you and me who have been baptized in the name of God have been called to proclaim God’s graciousness. We are called to lead people back to God and to discover a life filled with peace and love with God and with each other.

How do we do it then?

You as parents, you are in the best position to lead your children to God. You are there to prepare the way of the Lord in the hearts of your children. Teachers, educators and persons who are in authority, you too are in the position to influence your students, mentees and subjects to discover God in your authority. As friends, co-workers, and classmates we too are in the position to let those people around us to realize that God is in us. Through us, people around us may discover and be led closer to God.

Let us include in our prayers today to make John alive in each of us. It also means that we make ever present God’s graciousness in us because we will become a witness to God’s grace. Hopefully, through this vocation of bringing people close to God, we as a community, will also journey closer to God as we struggle to recognize God daily in our life despite our unbelief and refusal to believe in God’s graciousness to us. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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