“What then will this child be?”
Those were the words in every household of the hill country of Judea after the birth of St. John the Baptist, which we celebrate today.
The circumstances of his birth had certainly been wondrous: his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were well beyond the age for having children; Zechariah had been afflicted with inexplicable muteness all throughout her pregnancy; and that muteness had been instantaneously cured when he had confirmed the child’s name: John.
What is the importance of this name? Why John?
The name “John” in Hebrew means “God is gracious.” We can certainly see the purpose of this name if we consider his role as the forerunner of Christ.
The purpose of John’s name becomes even clearer when we look at his parents’ names. Zechariah means “God remembers,” and Elizabeth means “God of oaths” or “God has sworn.” God promised a Savior to mankind directly after the Fall, and confirmed His covenant throughout salvation history—He never forgot His promise. He remembers always, and is faithful to what He has sworn.
St. John is the herald of the Messiah, Who is the fulfillment of God’s promise, the great expression of His unfathomable graciousness and mercy. The time of salvation is very near; the light of Christ is coming “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” as Zechariah says in the beautiful canticle he speaks after the birth of his son.
Celebrate today’s Feast of the Nativity of the great St. John the Baptist with our beautiful ceramic tile depicting Botticelli’s Madonna & Child with St. John. Designed and printed right here in Charlotte, NC, this piece features Botticelli’s classic image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus with a young St. John the Baptist, who looks at us and invites us into this sacred scene. Perfect for a prayer space or bookshelf! Order yours at The Catholic Company today!