What’s In A Name: Solemnity of The Nativity of John the Baptist
Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The name that was chosen for him was not Zechariah, like his father, but John. What is the meaning of this name? “Yahweh is gracious.” Therefore, the very name is one of gratitude and praise to God on the part of the parents. Elizabeth chooses this name for her little son, the boy who will “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.” Her husband Zechariah, mute for months on end after not believing the angel Gabriel who told him Elizabeth would bear this child, agrees by writing, “His name is John.” With this acknowledgement of God’s graciousness in giving them this special boy, Zechariah is able once again to speak, and he proclaims one of the great canticles, The Benedictus, beginning “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.”
Reading from Luke 1:57-79
Now Elizabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marveled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he swore to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
At baptism, the child’s name is proclaimed aloud before God and the church of those gathered to witness. This child, John, would grow up to be the great Baptist, one who would prepare the world for the coming of the Lord.
What is your name? It is your story, a syllable or syllables chosen with great consideration to embody all that you are or are meant to be. In Europe and Greece, name days are popular. A name day celebrates not the day of your birth, but the day of the saint you were named for. If you are not named specifically after a saint, then you celebrate on “All Saints Day.” Whenever your name day falls, celebrate it! In the charmingly whimsical spirit of Owen Wilson’s Dupree from the movie You, Me & Dupree, your name celebrates your “ness,” the unique quality that makes you, you. So when you celebrate your name day and always… May your “ness” be blessed!
One thought on “What’s In A Name: Solemnity of The Nativity of John the Baptist”
Happy Name Day to JEMFS our bundle of joy!