John the Baptist, Chartres Cathedral
His name is John.
Today the Gospel relates the birth of John the Baptist.
The relatives want to give him the name of his father.
Elizabeth and Zacharias insist on the name “John.”
In Hebrew, John means “God is gracious.”
Graciousness is, for me, one of the most important starting points for believing and living.
God is gracious – and gives us all, without cost.
And so we too are called to be gracious, to be giving – and above all to be forever “giving thanks.”
All is grace.
In him we live and move and have out being.
Paul’s sermon to the Athenians is, in some ways, a masterpiece.
He starts from where his audience is and from what he himself has experienced. He quotes their poets. He offers an explanation for the altar to an “unknown god.”
But several verses stood out for me this morning:
“It is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.”
Acts 17: 25
God gives all of us everything. All is gift and all are gifted. Not just life and breath are gifts of God – but everything.
We don’t have to placate this God with sacrifices as the Greeks did with their gods; nor do we need to endlessly bargain with God, offering him something so that in return we get what we want.
If God is truly the giver of all, how can I not live with gratitude for all that is. God is gracious, giving – and so my response is gratitude, graciousness, giving to God and to all God’s creation.
“In him we live and move and are.”
Acts 17: 28
Does gratitude and the experience of all are graced and gifted move me?
Do I live with a spirit of grace?
Gustavo Gutiérrez puts it very well, in We Drink from Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People (p. 110):
The experience of gratuitousness is the space of encounter wit the Lord. Unless we understand the meaning of gratuitousness, there will be no contemplative dimension in our life. Contemplation is not a state of paralysis but of radical self-giving… In the final analysis, to believe in God means to live out our life as a gift from God and to look upon everything that happens in it as a manifestation of this gift.