Monday, December 23, 2013

Don't overlook the angels

On this last day before we start our Christmas masses, the readings focus our attention on John the Baptist. Particularly at Christmas we tend to think of angels with wings and halos. We can forget that the word at its root means messenger. And while God sometimes uses actual angels, often enough the angel (messenger) is another person.

In the case of John, it was his mother. In today's gospel his father is mute, it is time to name the child, and the men in the family, filling in for the father have decided to name him after his father. But the mother intervene, and does the unthinkable; she names the baby. Not only does she name him but she gives him a foreign name.

John's father could have, if for nothing else than to show that he was in charge, disputed with her and sided with his family. Instead, he does what she says.

Over the next few days we may be with people who are, to be polite, difficult. We have a tendency to simply dismiss or ignore what these people say. Certainly, that is how the men of John's family would have thought of Elizabeth.

Today's gospel reminds us that God can often use as his messenger someone whom we least expect. In these season when we celebrate the miracle of God coming into our world, perhaps we need to keep our ears open. Perhaps if we listen carefully, we may hear for the least expected place a message God wants us to hear for Christmas.