Luke 1:57   Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:59   On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:80   The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
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Thought for the day
A birth is never “just” a birth. Each new life is always a gift and, at the same time, an affirmation, a sign of hope. Even in difficult circumstances, joy is the spontaneous response and with such joy comes a new sense of being more alive, more ourselves, more “graced”, with a raised aware- ness of God-with-us. Parents wonder always “what will become of this child?” What holds for each of us was also true of John the Baptist, only all the more so, as we see in Luke’s account. He was the last of the old and the first of the new, a prophet between the times — not unlike ourselves!



The birth of John the Baptist was an occasion of great joy for family and friends.  Recall occasions when you celebrated the arrival of a baby.  What thoughts and feelings did you have? Use the memory to reflect on the wonder of your own life and give thanks for it.

2. There is often a story behind the name given to a child.  What story lies behind your name?  Perhaps it says something of the hopes your parents had for you, or the memories they wanted you to retain.

3. “What will this child become?”  The Baptist was to become a herald pointing the way to Jesus.  In our turn we are also called to point people towards a better way of life.  Recall times when you were able to point somebody in a direction that helped. Give thanks for those who have done the same for you.

4. The child grew and the hand of the Lord was with him. As you look back on your own growth and development, were there things that happened about which you now say “the hand of the Lord was with me there”?


The question of the neighbours and relations ask of the child John in the gospel reading, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ could be asked of any of us. It is a question that could be asked of us at any stage of our lives, ‘What will I turn out to be?’, or to put the question in other terms, ‘Who is God calling me to be’? ‘What is God’s purpose for my life?’ God’s purpose for John’s life and God’s purpose for all our lives have a great deal in common. God wants all of us to do what John did, to point out the Saviour, to make way for Jesus, to lead others to him by what we say and do. John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrate today, has something to teach us about how we might keep faithful to this God-given calling. He was a man of the desert, a man of prayer. We all need to find our own desert place of prayer if we are to remain true to our calling to lead others to the Lord, if we are to turn out as God wants us to.

Martin Hogan: LET THE WORD OF GOD DWELL IN YOU (Messenger)