Complex medical and ethical issues surround both the beginning and end of life. Science can prolong or shorten life. But for all our advancements we still cannot create life. That is a gift of God. Every birth is a miracle. For parents who have long awaited their firstborn, birth is an even more special miracle. This Sunday’s gospel celebrates the birth of John the Baptist, a miracle baby boy for the aging and childless Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Everything about John points to the unexpected. He was conceived by an “elderly” woman. He was not named after his father. He spent his life in the desert and not in the temple following his father’s footsteps. His life was not about himself, but he pointed to Another, the Messiah whom we celebrate as our Savior.
Like John, we are called by God to announce the unexpected ways of Jesus’ presence. We do this when we help another see the healing presence of Jesus in a painful situation. When we manifest Jesus’ patient presence with a coworker who drives us nuts. When we bring Christ’s forgiving presence to a tense family situation. In all these incidents, we might say, “I wasn’t expecting that!” And sometimes we are just as surprised at how God brings forth salvation through us.