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Elizabeth Proclaims: 'No. He Will Be Called John.'

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My mother, Helen, passed last fall. Though she lived to a very old age, and we had a good relationship, I was puzzled that her death impacted me profoundly. It was only when a good friend pointed out to me that the relationship with our mothers is different because, generally speaking, they love us unconditionally and are our advocates, that I understood my grief.


By Father David Begany, SSJ
6/24/2024 (4 weeks ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Elizabeth, John, Baptist, baptism, feast, pro-life

At the birth of St. John the Baptist, celebrated in today's Feast of his Nativity,  it was his mother, Elizabeth, who named him, not his father, Zechariah. She said, "No. He will be called John." When Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited Elizabeth her cousin, while they were both pregnant, "the baby leapt in my [Elizabeth's] womb." Even before John's birth, his mother knew him and was united to him. 

I think it is safe to say all mothers recognize the movement of their unborn children within their bodies while pregnant; and unless pressured from the outside will want what is best for them - to give them life - and look forward to their births with joy, just as Elizabeth did. She didn't know that John would be a prophet proclaiming the coming of his cousin, Jesus, as Messiah but since she conceived him "in old age," she knew God had special plans for him.

Most women do not know God's plans for their children but most, I would say, desire good things for them. Sometimes these naturally good desires are challenged, and mothers' resolve weakened, when the pregnancy is not expected whether in young or older age. This attack often comes from the persons in their lives they should expect the most support from: Their husbands or boyfriends, parents or grandparents, brothers and sisters, or good friends. 

These people can and do persuade mothers to abort their children based on fear, mistaken notions of what is best for the mother, and their own expectations for her. In these times, it is good to recall the words of Elizabeth who said, 'No. He will be called John." 

Mothers know their unborn children better than anyone else, and when in doubt or under pressure to abort, must assert their love for these precious unborn by giving them the gift of life. That's one of the messages we share every day at Priests for Life.

We, as family and friends, should do the same by supporting and caring for mothers and their unborn children, because they know them, are united to them, and will, one day call them by name.

Father David Begany, SSJ, is a pastoral associate of Priests for Life and pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Baytown, Texas.

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