As we celebrate the Nativity of St John the Baptist, Fr Prodencio Bognay reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 57-66, 80) in which Zechariah reveals the name of his and Elizabeth’s baby saying ‘John is his name’.The birth and naming of John the Baptist had a mixture of joy and controversy. While the neighbors celebrated during John’s birth, confusion came during the rite of naming. Fr Prodencio says we can understand and appreciate the controversy about the naming of John if we take into considerations the reality that Zechariah and Elizabeth were said to be advanced in age when John was conceived. While naming children with their own father’s name or their ancestor’s name is part of the Jewish sacred tradition, the drama of the naming of John made the twist of capturing the experience of his parents. The name John, which means “YHWH is Gracious,” (God is Gracious) was an expression of the sacred and meaningful experience of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were more interested in expressing their mutual experience of the generosity of God to them rather than simply immortalizing their names. This might be a good thing to consider for parents when it comes to naming their children. Another thing Fr Prodencio finds interesting is that Zachariah accordingly gained back his speech after the naming. What is clear is that he started to praise God on the account of the graciousness of God to his family. He did not only name his religious experience. He also expressed it in a concrete way through praising God. As today we celebrate the solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Fr Prodencio invites us to reflect on how we could also give names to our sacred and meaningful experiences.
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