Nativity of St John the Baptist - Year B - 24th June, 2018
In the 1st chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke we read: 'in the days of King Herod of Judea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood. He had a wife, Elizabeth, who was a descendant of Aaron ... but they were childless; Elizabeth was barren and they both were advanced in years. Now it happened it was the turn of his section to serve and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot as the priestly custom was to enter the Lord's sanctuary and burn incense there. And, at the hour of incense, all the people were outside praying.
Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and we was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, " Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you shall name him John."
Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I know this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years."
The angel replied, "I am Gabriel, who stands in God's presence and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Look! Since you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech till this has happened."
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them and they realised he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
But he could only make signs to them and remained dumb. When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived and for 5 months she kept to herself, saying, "The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I have suffered".'
Later in the first chapter, we read about the birth of John - known to us as St. John the Baptist. On thinking about Zechariah and Elizabeth, I ask myself, "Do I believe that God is with me and all other people and creatures - keeping us all alive and caring for us?"
Later on in the same chapter in the Gospel according to St. Like, the angel Gabriel appears to March and in the conversation says to her, "Nothing is impossible to God."
I need to remember this when life is hard.
Fr. Noel Travers, C.M