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From: Luke 1:57-66, 80

The Birth and Circumcision of John the Baptist

[57] Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a
son. [58] And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great
mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. [59] And on the eighth day they came
to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father,
[60] but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” [61] And they said to
her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” [62] And they made signs to
his father, inquiring what he would have him called. [63] And he asked for a wri-
ting tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marvelled. [64] And im-
mediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing
God. [65] And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked
about through all the hill country of Judea; [66] 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.

[80] And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness
till the day of his manifestation to Israel.


59. Circumcision was a rite established by God under the Old Covenant to mark
out those who belonged to His chosen people: He commanded Abraham to insti-
tute circumcision as a sign of the Covenant He had made with him and all his de-
scendants (cf. Genesis 17:10-14), prescribing that it should be done on the eighth
day after birth. The rite was performed either at home or in the synagogue, and,
in addition to the actual circumcision, the ceremony included prayers and the na-
ming of the child.

With the institution of Christian Baptism the commandment to circumcise ceased
to apply. At the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff), the Apostles definitely de-
clared that those entering the Church had no need to be circumcised.

St. Paul’s explicit teaching on the irrelevance of circumcision in the context of
the New Alliance established by Christ is to be found in Galatians 5:2ff; 6:12ff;
and Colossians 2:11ff.

60-63. By naming the child John, Zechariah complies with the instructions God
sent him through the angel (Luke 1:13).

64. This miraculous event fulfills the prophecy the angel Gabriel made to Zecha-
riah when he announced the conception and birth of the Baptist (Luke 1:19-20).
St. Ambrose observes: ‘With good reason was his tongue loosed, because faith
untied what had been tied by disbelief” (”Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam. in loc.”).

Zechariah’s is a case similar to that of St. Thomas, who was reluctant to believe
in the resurrection of our Lord, and who believed only when Jesus gave him clear
proof (cf. John 20:24-29). For these two men God worked a miracle and won their
belief; but normally He requires us to have faith and to obey Him without His wor-
king any new miracles. This was why He upbraided Zechariah and punished him,
and why He reproached Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen Me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).

80. “Wilderness”: this must surely refer to the “Judean wilderness” which stret-
ches from the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea to the hill country of Judea.
It is not a sand desert but rather a barren steppe with bushes and basic vegeta-
tion which suit bees and grasshoppers or wild locusts. It contains many caves
which can provide shelter.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

9 posted on 06/23/2015 9:14:17 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman &Todd
10 posted on 06/23/2015 9:17:25 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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