Lk 1: 57-66. 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father.

But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.

Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

God’s Grace-filled Plan

The scriptures today demonstrate that divine inspiration begins in the womb. Psalm 139 says, “truly you have formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb,” and in Isaiah, “the Lord has spoken who has formed me as his servant from the womb.”

Yet as adults we can tend to overlook our divinely inspired desires to accommodate the expectations and norms of society.

Elizabeth and Zacharias, divinely inspired, avoided following the crowd, and used the name John for their son. John the Baptist remained true to this divine plan beginning in the womb until his death.  How then do we return to God’s divinely inspired plan that begins in the womb?

Perhaps the recipe for divine inspiration comes from the “Three Degrees of Humility” meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius The first degree is to do nothing that would cut me off from God. The second is to seek a life of detachment, and the third is to love the poor Christ. (Exercises #165, 166, 167).

True humility connects us to Jesus, revealing that —although unworthy—each of us is part of a divinely-inspired plan

—Matthew Lieser, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.


O Lord, you search me and you know me; You know my resting and my rising. All my plans lie open to you. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast.

—Psalm 139