[What follows is purely personal and does not necessarily reflect the views of my Benedictine brethren.]
The name was crucial. St Luke’s gospel makes that clear. The expectation was that the son born of the aged Elizabeth and Zechariah would be named after his father, or at least a close kinsman. Yet the decision was for John, a novel name in his family and one that clearly stupefied the family and friends who had gathered for the baby’s circumcision.
Why does St Luke labour this trivial point so? The name John in itself means nothing special per se. Its significance lies in its symbolism. That the baby would not take his father’s name is a sign that this boy would not follow in the footsteps of his father; he would not be a temple priest, but a prophet. His vocation would not be to serve the old covenant but to herald the New Covenant. He was to be a voice crying in the wilderness of Israel pointing to the Lamb of God, who will be a light not only for Israel, but to enlighten also the Gentiles. The novel name is a symbol that Israel is about to embark on a novel course, to become the new Israel, the Church, the Body of Christ. Continue reading “Everything has changed: John the Baptist and Brexit”