“What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him” – Luke 1:66
God rendered Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah mute when he doubted God’s messenger, the angel Gabriel, who had appeared to him to say that Elizabeth, though barren and old, would give birth. Gabriel declared, “You are to call him John” (Lk. 1:13). The child, of course, was to be John the Baptist. As foretold, the baby was born. At his circumcision, a time for naming, neighbors and relatives were urging to call him Zechariah, after his father. Elizabeth, however, said to call him John. The decision finally came to the father. When Zechariah, astonishing all, wrote on a tablet, “His name is John,” God restored Zechariah’s speech: “His mouth was open and his tongue set free” (Lk.1:64). He praised God. Amazed by such signs, all wondered what this child with the hand of the Lord upon him would be. “What, then, will this child be?”
Perhaps in 1865 William Chatterton Dix had this passage in mind when he put words to the tune Greensleeves in the now famous carol “What Child is This.” How often, too, Mary and Joseph must have looked at their baby Jesus and wondered, “What will this child be?”
I love the question. What parents have not asked it about their own children. What good teachers have not looked into the eyes of the students in their care and wondered what would they be, who will they become. Aren’t we ourselves – all God’s children – called to ask and to answer this mysterious question for ourselves each day? “Who will I be? Who am I becoming?” Even now in my seventh decade, the question remains dynamically open to me… and calls for answer.
Miracles, we know, are not reserved just for Biblical antiquity. Surely, “the hand of the Lord” is with us today – and very personally – no less miraculously than it was for Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John! So touched by the holy, touched by God, each of us made in God’s image, are we not magnificent creatures capable of inspiring awe in others when we allow God to work through us? Have we not the promise of doing wondrous deeds? How do we fulfill that promise?
John’s task was prophesized and clear: to make ready the way for the Lord Jesus, to announce his coming. Our task is similar: to make way in our hearts for the Lord, to be open to the workings of God in our lives, to acknowledge in awe and joy the hand of the Lord upon us, and to “announce” Jesus to others. May we do so gladly!
Lord, as a channel of your grace, with your divine hand upon me, may I reveal Jesus to others in joyful living, in loving action. In cooperation with your will, help me to be your child and messenger, announcing the way of the Lord, stirring wonder in the hearts of others. Amen.
Brother Thomas Puccio, C.F.X.
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