Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today the liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His birth is the event that illuminates the lives of his parents Elisabetta and Zaccaria, and involves relatives and neighbors in joy and amazement. These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared that day, but now they no longer expected it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they had no children. Faced with the announcement of the birth of a child (cf. Lk1,13), Zacharias was incredulous, because the laws of nature did not allow it: they were old, they were old; as a result, the Lord made him silent for all the time of gestation (see v. 20). It is a signal. But God does not depend on our logic and our limited human capacities. We must learn to trust and to be silent in the face of the mystery of God and to contemplate in humility and silence his work, which is revealed in history and which so often exceeds our imagination.

And now that the event takes place, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that "nothing is impossible to God" ( Lk 1:37), their joy is great. Today's Gospel page ( Lk1.57-66.80) announces the birth and then focuses on the imposition of the name on the child. Elisabetta chooses a name foreign to the family tradition and says: "It will be called Giovanni" (verse 60), a gratuitous and by now unexpected gift, because Giovanni means "God has done grace". And this child will be herald, witness of God's grace for the poor who wait with humble faith for his salvation. Zacharias unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name, writing it on a tablet - because he was dumb - and "at once he opened his mouth and loosened his tongue, and spoke normally, blessing God" (v. 64).

The whole event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyful sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude.Amazement, surprise, gratitude. People are gripped by a holy fear of God "and all these things were discussed throughout the whole mountainous region of Judea" (v. 65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people realize that something great has happened, even if humble and hidden, and asks: "What will this child be?" (V. 66). The faithful people of God are able to live the faith with joy, with a sense of amazement, surprise and gratitude. We look at those people who chatted well about this wonderful thing, about this miracle of the birth of John, and they did it with joy, they were happy, with a sense of amazement, of surprise and gratitude. And looking at this, let's ask ourselves: how is my faith? Is it a joyful faith, or is it always the same faith, a "flat" faith? I have a sense of amazement when I see the works of the Lord, when I hear about the evangelization or the life of a saint, or how much I see so many good people: do I feel the grace inside, or nothing moves in my heart? Can I feel the consolations of the Spirit or am I closed? Let us ask each of us, in an examination of conscience: How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God's surprises? Because God is the God of surprises. Have I "tasted" in the soul that sense of the wonder that gives the presence of God, that sense of gratitude? Let us think of these words, which are the soul of faith: joy, a sense of amazement, a sense of surprise and gratitude. How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God's surprises? Because God is the God of surprises. Have I "tasted" in the soul that sense of the wonder that gives the presence of God, that sense of gratitude? Let us think of these words, which are the soul of faith: joy, a sense of amazement, a sense of surprise and gratitude. How is my faith? Is it joyous? Is it open to God's surprises? Because God is the God of surprises. Have I "tasted" in the soul that sense of the wonder that gives the presence of God, that sense of gratitude? Let us think of these words, which are the soul of faith: joy, a sense of amazement, a sense of surprise and gratitude.

May the Blessed Virgin help us to understand that in every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. She, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us more and more aware that in the generation of a child the parents act as collaborators of God. A truly sublime mission that makes each family a sanctuary of life and awakens - every birth of a child - joy, amazement, gratitude.

 

ANGELUS ADDRESS GIVEN BY POPE FRANCIS ON THE 24TH JUNE 2018

ON THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST