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Lectio Divina: “What then will this child become?”

Lectio Divina: “What then will this child become?”

Gospel reading: Luke 1.57-66 *

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbours 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 neighbours, 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.


John was still a tiny baby, only eight days old. His naming ceremony was chaotic, with neighbours and relatives milling around, a tongue-tied father unable to provide his name, a no-nonsense mother speaking out, only for the father suddenly to regain his speech and start to praise God. Fear and gossip spread throughout the country, amazement and pondering in all quarters.

What then will this child become? John was still a tiny baby, but he became a great prophet. He had a difficult life, but affected and blessed a great many people. At the height of his ministry, he recognised Jesus and said that he must decrease while Jesus must increase.** He preached the good news of the Kingdom, and was put in prison because of it. There were no doubt many other facets and contradictions to the person he was to become.

The ripples of the chaotic naming ceremony spread far. Modern baptisms or christenings are beautiful in their way, but seem anodyne in comparison. A dress of white lace and a few sprinkles of water. Yes they are sacraments of a deeper reality, but what if we recognised the enormous explosive potential in the tiny baby being baptised? How many people she or he might affect? How he or she is a child of God and will become more and more who they are in God’s sight as they grow physically and in wisdom?

But let us not just consider tiny babies. What then will this child of God – you, me, every one of us – become? Starting now. Because each of us as a child of God has the chance to start again, and again, and again, and grow more and more into our true selves, the beloved ones that we are in God’s sight. Today, moment by moment, I have a chance to start over. What then will I as a (slightly older) child of God become?

* which was actually Thursday’s Gospel – you can’t get the staff!

** Hence his feast day is on 25 June. We celebrate the Nativity on 25 December as the period of daylight starts to increase, and celebrate John at the opposite end of the year as it starts to decrease.


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.