The Vatican (Sunday, June 24, 2018, Gaudium Press) Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:
Before the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today the Liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His birth is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and involves, in its joy and amazement, relatives and neighbors. These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared that day, but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they had no children. Faced with the announcement of the birth of a child (Lk 1:13), Zechariah could not believe it, because the laws of nature did not allow it: they were old, they were elderly; as a result, the Lord made him speechless and unable to talk for the whole term of the pregnancy (see v. 20). It is a sign. But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities. We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence his work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination.
And now that the event takes place, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “nothing is impossible to God” ( Lk 1:37), their joy is great. Today’s Gospel page ( Lk 1:57-66.80) announces the birth and then focuses on the imposition of the name on the child. Elizabeth chooses a name foreign to the family tradition and says: “He will be called John” (v. 60), a gratuitous and by now unexpected gift, because John (‘Giovanni’) means “God has been gracious.” And this child will be a herald, witness of God’s grace for the poor who wait with humble faith for His salvation. Zechariah unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name, writing it on a tablet – because he couldn’t speak – and “at once his mouth opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” (v. 64)
The whole event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyful sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. Amazement, surprise, gratitude. People are gripped by a holy fear of God “and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea” (v. 65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people realized that even if in a humble and hidden way, something great happened, and ask: “What, then, will this child be?” (V. 66). The faithful people of God are able to live the faith with joy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. We look at those people who discussed this wonderful event, about this miracle of the birth of John, and they did so with joy, happily, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.
May the Blessed Virgin help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. She, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in the generating of a child the parents act as collaborators of God. This is a truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens – every birth of a child – joy, amazement, gratitude.