Meditation for Sunday of the Birth of St. John the Baptist (Luke 1: 57-80)
Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius, Thrissur
Ability to explore in to the mind and purpose of God is a great gift given to humans by God Himself. This is because we humans are created in the image and likeness of God and has been given the breath of life. Nevertheless, we many times not only fails to do that, but get preoccupied in our own false notions and prejudices. More than that, we occasionally project our own petty notions as God’s mind revealed.
Zechariah the priest was called to stand before God, offer Him worship and then get the Word of God from Him about His creation to pass it on to the worshippers standing outside the Holy of Holies. He was called to be a mediator. Most of the priests in the history of people of Old Covenant failed to do that. That is why God had to lament through prophet Jeremiah saying, “The Priests did not seek the Lord…” (Jer. 2:8). Zechariah failed to seek the mind of God. Even when God revealed His mind, he failed to comprehend it. If the priests don’t seek they will not understand. If they don’t understand they will not be able to reveal it to the congregation verbatim and faithfully. However, they were habitually and customarily going in to the presence of God to come out to the public and deliver blessings. What they delivered were not what they sought and received. It was hypocrisy all along. It was a mechanical act on the part of the priests and they never were true to their job. This is what prophet Jeremiah was talking about from the mind of God. Zachariah was no exception. So God decided that he should not speak at all until the Word of God took its effect.
Everything God created has the ability to proclaim the glory of God. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his hand work.” History and nature are the other two areas through which God’s glory is proclaimed apart from humans themselves. Nature and history are faithfully doing their mission. But humans many times do not follow the rule, though she/he by the very nature are supposed to be delivering God’s message. While nature and history proclaim the glory of God, we humans are to derive message about the mind of God from these glory proclamations, in terms of their meaning and relevance. So we, on the one hand need to be proclaiming the glory of God as being the creation just like history and nature, and at the same time deliver the message of the mind of God both derived directly from God and also from the glory proclamation of history and nature. Peter was not able to understand the message of the glory of the Son of God at the event at the mountain top (Mark 9:5-6). But Moses sure understood and interpreted the glory of God appeared on the top of the mountain in the form of Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:18- 20:28).
To proclaim God’s will and message, there should be a seeking the will of God. Zephaniah 2:3 says, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth…” (See Matthew 7:7-8 also). An exploration in to the mind of God will help us understand what He thinks about us and everyone and everything else. This is the attitude followed by the people who saw what happened during the naming of John the Baptist. Zechariah failed to deliver the message of God revealed to him which had greater relevance to all creation. It was a message not just about Zechariah and Elizabeth having a son, but a message of the birth of the ‘herald’ of the Son of God through whom the whole creation will be saved. As a matter of fact the mind of God and His purpose in everything, default, is aimed at saving not just one person or a small group but the whole creation. Zechariah failed to receive the message and hence could not deliver it to the public. But the historical event in terms of what happened during that particular moment of the naming of John, that message was revealed. This made people further wonder about the future of the child and that made them exclaim “"What then will this child turn out to be?" (Luke 1:66). This was the right attitude people took in matter of seeking the mind of God. They did not make any conclusion, on what the child shall become out of their pre-conceived notion about the son born in to the priestly family.
Many a time our conclusions about the future, identity and personality of a child are decided by to whom, where (which family) and when the child was born. We, in an arbitrary way decide on the future of the child without looking in to possibilities. This prevent us from understanding the purpose of God with that child. We need to look in to the times and seasons and see the signs (Matt. 16:3). Every child is born for service to the future of the creation. The realities and needs of the time when a child was born will not be the same as the realities and times by the time the child grows up to fulfil her/his mission. So we cannot decide the destiny and purpose of the child born to us just by seeing the then existing situation. There should be a seeking in to the mind of God to learn about what the kind of time shall be when the child grows up. We should not be short sighted people, rather look in to nature and history to see what God is trying to tell us about ourselves and everything and everyone else as the future world emerges. We very well know that what happened in the world of economy in 2008 was because we did not look in to history, but lived carelessly with short-sightedness and greed. Now among Malayalee community hundreds of those children who got educated in engineering are left jobless because we saw only the Y2K issue and the limited possibilities it brought in the field of technology during late 1990s but not beyond or beside. Today people are paying laks of rupees to get admission for their children in to commerce based courses in universities because currently more people are needed in the field of accounting as all legal transactions are to be through banks and monitored through Aadhar and PAN cards by the government.
We, in the New Testament era, through Christ, are called as of the ‘priestly race’ (1Pet. 2:9). Hence we all need to be seeking the will of God and be proclaiming it to the world just as Zechariah was supposed to. We are called to be the mediators of the will of God to the world. To be effective in our mission, we need to seek His mind first. If we do not ask God, ‘what each child shall become’, I am afraid, we will be mute even while we talk, and convey nothing no matter how loud and long we may speak, until we see the message of God in historical arena and in nature. This is why our Church has declared the day of the birth of John as ‘children’s day’. They are God’s gift to us and we are only their caretakers. We do not have children of our own. Each child is a history carrier that brings the message of God to all creation through her/his life. We need to ‘seek Him and live’ (Amos 5:4), seek Him and live with joy, identity and peace of mind with a purpose. Wish you all a Blessed Children’s Day.
(Originally posted in ICON)