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Obedience When It Isn’t Popular!
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to learn from Zechariah and Elizabeth how to grow in the virtue of obedience for the sake of the kingdom.
- And They Rejoiced With Her: The whole community showed up for Zechariah and Elizabeth as they celebrated the arrival of their miracle son into the world. Events like these must be very pleasing to God the Father. He wants us to rejoice together over the joys of life. Doing so in community expands our hearts, helps us to be grateful for each other, encourages us to live well, and reminds us of God’s goodness to us! We are called to appreciate and build up our Christian communities.
- He Will Be Called John: What a shock it must have been to realize that Zechariah intended to call his son John. No namesake? That’s not the way it was done among their people! Despite the controversy, we see the unwavering faith, determination, and obedience of Zechariah and Elizabeth in fulfilling the will of the Lord by naming their boy John. Following God’s will can cause controversy in our lives too. Obedience is the response of a faithful disciple. “Obedience unites us so closely to God that, in a way, transforms us into him, so that we have no other will but his. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God” (St. Thomas Aquinas).
- Taking It to Heart: The friends and family of Zechariah and Elizabeth realized that something special was designated by God for this child: “All who heard these things took them to heart…” Theirs was the proper attitude of faith! Our Lord calls us to constantly broaden our scope of understanding and docility to his voice in the multiple ways he reaches out to us each day. We “take to heart” our calling to be faithful disciples and listen attentively to know his will for our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I feel as if I am sometimes blind and deaf to your presence and voice. Help me to open my heart to receive with docility, faith, and obedience your guidance and calling to a life of deeper holiness of life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a special effort to sit in silence, saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening!”
For Further Reflection: Pray the “Suscipe” (prayer of surrender) of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Father Todd Arsenault is from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and is a priest with the Legionaries of Christ. He spent fourteen years doing ministry in the greater Toronto area as a chaplain for Regnum Christi and couple’s groups, spiritual director, and retreat master. He is currently on a two-year sabbatical in Rome, studying for a licentiate in Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.