Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Parenthood is by no means a foregone conclusion, something one can take for granted. In the animal kingdom, there are animals that eat their young. Before Christianity became the religion of the Empire, fathers had the right to kill undesired babies. With the baptism of Rome fathers were educated beyond such a “right”, yet after Christianity’s cultural demise it is mothers who have the right to dispose of unwanted children, so far, at least before birth. No, parenthood is not a foregone conclusion. It is an achievement of grace – of self-sacrifice, of love, of God.
And even when children are born – perhaps especially when they are born – as the years go by, accepting, claiming the child is, again, not something to be taken for granted. Endless films and stories portray a father finally saying: “You are my son.” And the son finding his father.
The Spirit of God inspired the prophet Malachi to foretell a time when the “hearts of the fathers will be turned toward their children” – and an earnest is paid in today’s Gospel, when Zechariah claims his child, and gives him the name God the Father had chosen for him: “His name is John.” God reveals Himself as the true father, and in His Fatherhood, a new fatherhood is given humanity who, left to our own devices, are lost orphans, abandoned children or abandoning parents. Parenthood is reclaimed by God, and reaches its peak in the infancy of the Son of God, whose name is Jesus.