February 29, 2024

“When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord has shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, ‘No. he will be called John’.”
“But they answered her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has this name’. So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke the blessing of God.”
John, Johanna, Johanes, and Juan are names with the same meaning. John means, “God is gracious.” The name John reveals who God is. God is a God of generosity. The name John tells the story of God’s generosity to Elizabeth and Zechariah.
I discourage the use of the Filipino phrase, “Juan, tamad.” Juan or John was never tamad. He was a man who diligently proclaimed the gospel and stood for the truth up to his death.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were a pious couple. Their spirituality was beyond question.
At one point, Zechariah doubted the overflowing generosity of God to them, to have a child.
It is human indeed to doubt once in a while hence, we need to be in constant communion with God. The couple was blessed with a child and not an ordinary child but one who prepared the way of the Lord and one who converted people to Jesus. John will spell as well the story of Zechariah who doubted but gained back his senses when he wrote “John” on a tablet.
Let our doubts be dispelled by our constant recognition of God’s miracles in our life. Little miracles are indeed happening every day. We rest for a while and see them in order to see more the will of God in our life.
John the Baptist never complicated his life and his mission because of the two virtues he lived out.
“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah’.” (John 1:19)
It was easy for him to obey God because of his core values that he constantly sustained and nourish in his social relationship.
We learn from John the Baptist two important virtues that kept him focused to his identity, vision, and mission.
“Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’.” (John 1:22-23)
First, John the Baptist was honest. The question thrown to him was quite tempting. “Are you the messiah?” without his virtue of honesty, he could have fallen into the trap of declaring himself. But he was indeed honest. “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him. (John 3:28)
Second, John the Baptist was humble. After confessing his real identity and mission, he showed humility in its best sense. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27) John was so humble.
The two virtues of John, honesty and humility built his credibility and authority. Honesty and humility indeed molded John the Baptist to another virtue, that of obedience. How beautiful to see church leaders and government leaders use these values daily. The shepherding is sure to bear much fruit because God is recognized as the ultimate public servant-leader. As shepherds entrusted with a flock, we are also disciples of Jesus. We learn in honesty and humility.
It is easier to obey when we have honesty and humility. May I share a beautiful formula of good spirituality. We use John the Baptist as model, “Honesty + humility = obedience. We can only obey well and obey happily when we are honest and humble. Reach me at [email protected] or 0908-727-6735.