What Then Will This Child Be?

When I spent the weekend at the seminary, one of the things that Msgr. Schlesselman advised me to do was lectio divina each day, or some form of contemplative prayer. So I’ve been going through the gospel of Luke from the beginning, taking small chunks of Scripture and meditating on them each day. Last night I used Luke 1:57-66, which is the birth of John the Baptist.

Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari’ah after his father,but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

The bolded phrase is from verse 66 and it is what struck me most. Here is what I wrote as I meditated on this passage.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors asked this about John the Baptist. I can only believe that at the moment that God created me, at my conception, the angels, and choirs, and creatures of heaven, asked the same question about me, as they do of each child that God creates. “What then will this child be?” God probably told them,and they rejoiced in the answer, and offered prayers and supplication that it might be. And throughout my life, those around me have asked the same question to themselves and given their own answers and hopes, perhaps in accordance with God’s will, but most likely in accordance with their own . My teachers and my parents have probably had the greatest advantage among men in shaping that answer, but it is ultimately God who know. God created John the Baptist in a unique situation to a barren woman for the purpose of proclaiming the kingdom of God and preparing the people to receive Christ. Only God knew the answer to the neighbor’s question because his Son asked it first. “Father, what then will this child be?” And God ordained an answer.

And now I am at a point in my life were I must seriously ask this very same question about myself. It is a great acknowledgment that I am not my own. I belong to someone else, and that is God. To refer to myself as “this child” as opposed to “I”, I separate my desires for my life and spirit that I was given from those that God has. The answer to this question matters to me a lot. The answer defines who I am and what my purpose is in this life. Of all the things going on in my life right now, answering, or receiving the answer to this question is what is most important. More important than O Chem, more important that LOST, more important than bringing my family to the Catholic Church. If I do not know what THIS child will be, I cannot possibly assist others in becoming what they will be.

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