Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted so much to have a child, but as deep as their desire was, God’s desire was even deeper: his desire was that their faith should grow so strong that it could be an example to believers throughout history.
Day by day, as Elizabeth and Zechariah prayed for a child, they were challenged to continue to hope and trust in God. The Archangel Gabriel appeared and assured them that their prayers were answered. Zechariah initially scoffed at the angel’s news. He couldn’t believe that God had finally come through. He still needed more training in faith so that his light could shine brighter.
And so it was that Zechariah entered an unexpected and somewhat unorthodox time of blessing from God. God used these months of silence to teach Zechariah so that he could in turn teach his son what it means to rely on God. When John was born, Zechariah’s response bore witness to the fruit of this time of grace. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed God’s faithfulness and prophesied great blessings over his son.
John was destined to spend years alone in the desert, listening to God and awaiting the time when he should appear and announce the Messiah’s coming. Then, when he was imprisoned by Herod, John again needed to be sustained by all that God had promised. He must have leaned heavily on the witness of his parents’ own patience and trust as he faced these challenges.
We all have unfulfilled desires and hopes; and today’s feast teaches us that we should never give up. We can place our full confidence in the One who hears every prayer in our hearts. As we wait on the Lord, we can ask him to mould our characters, just as he did for Zechariah, Elizabeth and their son John. In the end, we will find that his plan is far better than our own.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.