June 23, 2022

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Names are chosen for their uniqueness, ancestral significance, and import, referencing a virtue or a tribute to another: many reasons and choices. But what’s in a name?

Everything. In today’s readings, we consider the importance of names.

Zechariah, visited by the angel Gabriel who makes baby announcements, messages the child’s name to be born, ‘John.’ Doubting the possibility because of Elizabeth’s advanced years, Zechariah becomes speechless and will remain so until the child is born. The boy arrives; a name must be given, and Zechariah writes the name – ‘John’ (God’s gracious gift). The angel also tells Mary she will give birth to a son and is to be named ‘Jesus’ (God saves). The implications are in the names. John, a link between the Old and the New Testaments, is the chosen one, the descendent of so many before him, and now the light and way is passed to him. As for us, we are not unto ourselves.

Character traits, physical attributes, and demeanor may find their source in the DNA of past relatives and thus, act out in our lives. Our spiritual DNA is in the names of our biblical ancestors from whom we bear witness just as we might confirm values past-on to us from a relative. Look under the altar cloths. Therein rest the relics of our spiritual ancestors. God has called their names. Our baptismal naming gives us our identity. Our names may very well have come from that distant past.

So, stand defenseless in the pouring rain of antiquity – like another baptismal blessing from the litany of saints and all the holy men and women gone before us. Turning the pages of our old testament readings is like the family photo album. Our ancestors are part of our story. And we are to pass it on.


Remember the days of old; consider the years of generations past. Ask your father; he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you. (From Deuteronomy 37:7)


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Joe McCormack

Joe McCormack is an Associate of the Blessed Sacrament and a parishioner at St Paschal Baylon Church in Cleveland, Ohio.