Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Today’s Gospel recounts the argument over the choice of a name for baby John the Baptist:
“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.”
Implicit in this discussion is an underlying problem in every family, but I dare say in every relationship. All of us would like others to act according to our expectations. Giving a name also means giving a destiny, a meaning, a label. True love knows how to respect other people’s diversity and allows them to emerge in all their uniqueness. Good parents cannot burden their children’s shoulders with their own dreams, but must be willing to give them up so that their children’s dreams may be realized.
The defense of the name “John” is the defense of the diversity of this child who has every right to be himself to the fullest. That’s why the father, Zechariah, also allies himself with his wife’s will:
“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 blessing God.”
This father, who had not believed in the birth of his unexpected son, experienced nine months during which he gestated a change of heart. It’s nice to think that certain things in life change us, and this isn’t a bad thing but an extremely beautiful thing.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.