Eighth Gift

December 23, 2017

First reading                           Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner's fire,
or like the fuller's lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.

Psalm                                    Psalm 25: 4-5AB, 8-9, 10 and 14

Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.

Gospel                                 Luke 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son. 
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her. 
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
"No. He will be called John." 
But they answered her,
"There is no one among your relatives who has this name." 
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 
He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name,"
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
"What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him."


What Will This Child Be?
By Fra Mark Vertido Palafox, OFM

It is a question which expresses wonder for a birth of a child. I think such question was also asked by my parents when I was born. Even our relatives and our neighbors asked the same questions and they had something to say about my birth.

Many persons around us have a ready answer to what we shall be based on standards and ideals which sometimes make us believe that we are who they say we are. Many voices surround us during our growth years. Some are good, but most are degrading. Most of the time answering to life’s essential questions is driven by these voices we hear.

 “Who am I?” “What is my purpose in this life?” These are some of life’s essential questions that many young people encounter during a critical stage of their life. I, myself, went asking these questions. And I could have been the person whom my parents thought or the person whom others wanted me to be.

“John is his name!” In a confusing world, something remains true of who we are. We were given a name by our parents but during our baptism we were consecrated and given also 'another' name: God’s child. Yes, your name might have been imposed on you but whatever name you have received God calls you to be His child. You could choose to change that awful name you think you have but it remains the same that you are God’s child. He is our Father and we are His children.

When you accept that you are His child, then it will not be difficult anymore to find the truth of your being. For some, that could be submitting to someone who limits who you are. But that’s a false notion of God for He is “the Truth, the Way, and the Life.” He does not limit you but makes you free from sin which blinds you to see the Truth and to see yourself. “God has shown favor” to us. He is All Good!

In my search to answer who I am and what is my purpose, I was blessed to have parents who are open and supportive to their children. They wanted me to become someone, but I was always given freedom to choose. I became a teacher and they supported me all the way. Then, one day I told them that I will be entering the religious life. I know that it somehow broke their hearts but then they believed in God’s calling not only for me but also for them. And so, with their support and love, it helps me to live fully God’s call to be a friar minor.

John’s calling to be the Precursor of Christ is not limited to himself by doing God’s will. It was also a vocation for both Elizabeth and Zechariah. Parents participate in the growth of their children and guide them to heed God’s call to be a good priest or religious, or to be a loving spouse and parent, or to be a responsible teacher or doctor, etc. Putting this in a bigger picture, the community, especially the ecclesial community, is also called to nurture and support every vocation in all its form (ordained ministry, consecrated life, married life, or single blessedness).

So, the next time we ask, “What will this child be?” Let us better ask ourselves, “How can I help this child to realize his/her God-given gift and potential?”


Heavenly Father, You called John the Baptist to prepare the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. Teach us Your generosity that we may welcome every person as a child of God. Help us, especially all clergy and religious, to recognize Your call to live our baptism fully so that we may be witnesses of Your Kingdom and the life to come. Amen. 

The Gift

Prayer for Vocations

Lord Jesus, guide us to find Your holy will. We ask You to send holy priests and consecrated persons into Your Church that our communities may be strengthened by the Sacraments and by their witnessing. Strengthen every family that we may reconstruct our society in justice and compassion. Help every young person to recognize the seed of vocation in them. We ask this through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and Saint John. Amen.

(Fra Mark is a simple professed friar minor of the Custody of the Holy Land and currently lives in the Convent of Saint John the Baptist [which guards the birthplace of the saint] in the outskirts of Jerusalem, Israel. A teacher by profession, he is currently studying Philosophy at the Studium Theologicum Jerosolymitanum - Pontifical University “Antonianum”.)

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