Feast of Nativity of St.John the Baptist
On this Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the focus is, naturally, on John himself, and how it is he who prepares the way for Jesus. In doing this, however, we miss something else that our Gospel presents us with today: his parents.
In naming their child “John,” Elizabeth and Zechariah broke with a cultural norm. Who is he being named after? Where does this name come from? How taboo that they might name their child after no one in their family!
This might have caused a stir amongst the community; however, Zechariah and Elizabeth were firm in their desire to follow the path that God had put before them. In a strange way, even the name that John’s parents gave him was an experience of preparing for Jesus.
We know that throughout his life, Jesus flipped cultural and societal norms on their head. Both figuratively, but also literally! This was never done arbitrarily, but always at the service of the “least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” (cf. Mt 25:40)
Perhaps our invitation on this day is to reflect on how often we allow ourselves to simply “go with the flow” of the norms around us. The naming of John in our gospel today reminds us that our first and foremost call is the follow the footsteps of Jesus, even if that is sometimes a bit uncomfortable.
Luke Bulley CP serves as the assistant priest at St Paul Apostle in Endeavour Hills. He is also a co-founder and Team Leader of The Francis Project, an interdenominational school for Church renewal.