After the Annunciation at which Mary gave her fiat to be the Mother of God and heard of the miraculous conception of her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth who was now six months pregnant, Mary (and likely Joseph) made the journey to the hill country of Judea to be with Elizabeth. Mary, the “handmaiden of the Lord” remained with the elderly Elizabeth for three months to help in the final trimester and probably to assist in the birth of John the Baptist; it is uncertain if Mary (and Joseph) were present at John’s circumcision.

Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy (she had been barren and was past child-bearing age) and the prominent Zechariah’s strange muteness (caused by his disbelief; Luke 1:20) attracted great interest; when John was born, all the neighbors rejoiced.

When John was to be circumcised on the 8th day, Elizabeth, who had been informed by the mute Zechariah through gestures of the name of the child, speaks for the mute Zechariah, saying “…he shall be called John” (Hebrew, meaning “God is gracious”).  Skeptical and perhaps surprised that Elizabeth has spoken for Zechariah (it was the father who speaks during the circumcision rite for their sons), those present are astonished when Zechariah confirms by writing John’s name. Immediately, Zechariah miraculously regains his speech and praises God, causing great fear among the neighbors. Even though still a newborn, John causes great commotion throughout the hill country as people wonder, “What then will this child be?”

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ causes the miraculous conceptions of both Mary and Elizabeth. Son of Man, Christ is likely present in Mary’s womb at the birth of John the Baptist. Divine Judge, Christ both allows the muting and un-muting of Zechariah.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Salvation History is full of unexpected and mysterious connections. Consider that Mary assists Elizabeth with the birth of her son John the Baptist and that John grows up to assist Mary’s Son by announcing Christ’s public ministry (Luke 3).

2) The people wonder, “What then shall this child be?”  The answer is given 30 years later: John the Baptist will be the fearsome “Prophet of the Most High”, the greatest prophet who prepares the way for Christ. Be awed by John the Baptist (CCC 523) and ask the Baptist to give you the courage to witness to Christ.

3) While the consequences for disbelief in every day life are less obvious than the muting of Zechariah, every man bears the loss of God’s grace for disbelief.  Pray for Christ to help you grow in Faith (CCC 26, 143, 150, 1814-1816, 2087-2089) and that you may unconditionally accept God’s grace in all aspects of your life.