CELEBRATING OUR STORY
As I studied each panel, I began to see once more how the Lord has been guiding our community and our school over the years. My personal experience of St. Benedict's goes back to 1955 -- you do the math -- so my personal story is very much wrapped up with the narrative displayed on the panels.
SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN
This Sunday, June 24, is the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, a celebration so important that it replaces the Sunday prayers and readings at mass. One of the many themes underlying the story of John the Baptist is that God foresaw the coming of the Messiah, and so prepared for it by setting certain people apart ahead of time; Mary, of course, and John, who was to "prepare the way of the Lord." The church reflects on this theme in the day's masses (one for the vigil and another for Sunday) by offering us prophecies from the Old Testament that foretell the coming of the Messiah or of someone who is to go before Him to announce his coming.
So, even though people were pretty much unaware of what was happening as the story was unfolding, God's saving plan was being played out in history.
Think about it; the child has been around for eight days already, so we can presume they were calling him by some name during that time. The obvious choice of a name, almost automatically, would have been Zechariah. So picture the scene: They come to the ceremony of circumcision, and when it's time to officially name the child as a son of Israel, his mother says his name is to be John. The family and friends all look at one another with eyes wide with astonishment: "But we're already calling him Zechariah; it makes perfect sense, after all!" When they consult his father he confirms Elizabeth's statement: "His name is John!"
My reason for bringing this up is that I think it's really helpful to translate verse 59 as "they were [already] calling him Zechariah," because it reminds us that often God will intervene in our well laid out plans and force us to "recalculate," as your GPS would say.
Next time I walk through the exhibit of the 150 years of our school's history, I'll imagine little Post-It notes stuck at certain points in the narrative panels bearing a single word: "recalculating." When things didn't go as we had expected, we had to revise our plans, until the Lord got us to where he needed us to be. Some of these Post-Its will mark events that we experienced as major tragedies at the time, but in retrospect, with the hindsight of historical reflection, they now make perfect sense in the over-all narrative.
It seems a good lesson: always carry some Post-Its with you, since you never know when the Lord will come up with a plan that's better than your own. Just hope you won't need a whole lot of them!
Happy feast of