Tuesday, June 24, 2014

“...don't kid yourself. Keep the baby - I have no other advice for you. Children are the best thing in the world.”

You knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made. - Psalm 139:13-14

Gospel Text: (LK 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.

We are never too old or young to be surprised by God. Zechariah and Elizabeth were resigned to their situation, when the child first settled into his mother’s womb. Sputtering with doubt, Zechariah learned through months of silence to trust in God’s sly ways. When their son arrived, his parents insisted on calling him John, one beloved of God from the start.

God finds us in many ways. Some, like Paul and Augustine, wander for years before falling to the ground at God’s touch. Moved by a roguish spirit, the child John already is drawn into the desert to prepare the way of the Lord. The young David left his flock when the prophet called him to serve his people. Some paths seem direct while others are winding. I might wish to be knocked to the ground and blinded, but it is up to God how I receive my “name”.

Some seek God by running from the self. In their view, the self is inevitably selfish and must be abandoned if we are ever to become free. True, I can fall into a pit where nothing crosses the horizon except my own needs. But I am more than the pit; we are the wondrous work of God. If we are not astonished by our own being, something is wrong. There is no damaged part that cannot catch the light when I hold tight to the one who never stops forming me.

We cannot separate love of God, love of self, love of others, and love of the world. Like rising waters in spring, one flows into the next. This call extends to the ends of the earth. No one is alien to God. Everyone has a place at the table.

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