Today Richard McMahon from the Pastoral Renewal team reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 57-66, 80) which tells of the birth of John the Baptist and how he came to be named ‘John’.

Richard says, what an amazing introduction to John the Baptist! It is beautiful that we get these little insights into the background of some of these major characters in the Gospel. So many of them just appear in their own right. Here we get to meet the parents of John the Baptist and experience all the joy and the mystery surrounding his birth.

We know of course, what a significant figure John turned out to be and how in so many ways we are called to be like John, to be intentional in our discipleship, in the way we follow Jesus Christ.  We are opening up the door to Jesus, both in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. Making those pathways straight as John loves to talk about.

Richard takes us back to the idea of the family surrounding John. He got to be one of the greatest figures at the beginning of the New Testament. Yet, how did he get to that?

Richard is sure Elizabeth and Zechariah had a huge influence in his life. So, too, when we think about Aunty Mary and Uncle Joseph, who would have been around, of course, too, on some occasions and perhaps other significant figures.  We can imagine that John was surrounded with love, with faith, and everything he needed for a good upbringing.  In the gospel, the question is posed, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’.

Richards says he’d like to think that, with this family and all the love that surrounded John, it was not an idle question but that they became very committed to ensuring the best pathways were made possible for this child in learning about God and being surrounded with love.

In closing, Richard prays, ‘May we continue to do this for one another – be people who open up pathways, particularly to support families and young people in their maturity’.