Sunday, May 22, 2022

The birth of John the Baptist

By EMN Updated: Apr 27, 2016 11:30 pm

On the retirement from her Mission Works, Mother Teresa told her Confessor that God has not spoken to her for the last 50 years. This must have spanned the major portion of her Missionary life. This Writer thought Mother Teresa must have worked in close communication with God for the Poorest of the Poor in the World and the dying uncared in the Streets of Kolkata. It was surprising; God did not speak to her for 50 years! We feel sorry for her but we are greatly encouraged in our faith because of her faith in God despite the silence.
These happening witnesses the unshakable Faith in God of a frail looking little woman of little known Albania. Mother Teresa must have exceptional fortitude for continuing her works of love for 80 years for the downtrodden poorest of the poor few other mortals in the world care much about.
God remained silent to the Jews in Slavery in Egypt for 400 years. Then, after years, decades and centuries of silence, God spoke to an orphaned fugitive Jew in the desert of Sinai –to Moses- and Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, with unbelievable Miracles, Mighty Works of God-given Power, to the Land of Canaan and set them on the Road to a singular Nation.
Moses laid down high Moral Laws, divine Rules and Ethics the world has never before practiced, for the Jews to follow. After Moses; Prophets, Judges, Rulers and Kings guided the People based on those Morals, Ethics and sound realities of Polity.
But lacking a culture of established civil Governance System the world is familiar today; most people in those days in Israel lived according to what was right in his own Eyes like the early Nagas.
Within a few generations of life in the land of Canaan, Israel found itself difficult to match their organized neighbor Philistines in warfare.
They compelled their Prophet Samuel to select a King for them from among them like other Nations around them. Prophet Samuel anointed Saul, a well bred youth of exceptional physical endowment and personal beauty in Israel, to be their first King 1010 years before the birth of Jesus. But Saul grew afraid of the Philitines and turned towards divinations of Sorcerers than to God.
Then for 500 years, God was with Israel with some 50 of it Kings, Rulers, one after another and Prophets, in the last of the period we now categorize them as of the Minor Prophets -Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Micah.
But the Nation of Israel progressively slid down the Road of History: The initial monolithic Kingdom of David and Solomon broke into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in the third generation during the time of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. And in the absence of an established tradition of inheritance of the Throne; greed for Power; dissentions, contentions and treachery tore the small Kingdoms in the cross currents of powerful foreign Empires -Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Egyptian and ultimately Roman Empire, one after another.
The Northern Kingdom vanished in 722 to the Assyrians from the North, 200 years later, in 522, the southern Kingdom Judah followed suit to the Babylonians and did not continue to exist.
Malachi of the second half of fourth Century before Christ was the last Jewish Prophet God spoke to. After that God remained silent for three hundred (300) years of what is known in Israel’s history as the ‘Dark Silent Years’.
Under Darius of less barbaric Persian Empire and Queen Esther, Jews from exiles in different lands of the vast empire, century after century returned to Israel and resettled generations after generations, yet nobody ever heard of God speaking to them after Prophet Malachi.
The Persian King tried to extend his Empire to Europe, but the Athenian Greeks defeated them in the famous battle of Marathon, the world today remembers with a Marathon Race of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195km). King Darius of Queen Esther again tried an European extension, but around 333 BC, Alexander King of Macedonia utterly defeated him at Issus in Cilicia. Within a short 10 years of continuous and successful battles, Alexander overran the whole Asia Minor, Persia and reached the Indus Valley of River Jhelum in Punjab beyond which the battle weary tired remnants of original the 10000 Greek soldiers that crossed Sea to Turkey at the Bospherus, refused to go further.
On his way back, Alexander the Great died at Babylon and his eastern Empires passed into the hands of his contentious Generals. They fought with each other to gain control of all the Territory each by himself. Unspeakable turmoil followed during which Judea suffered terribly; Jerusalem was destroyed, its holy place suffered abomination of abomination. It was desecrated by spilling blood of Pigs and Prostitutes plied their ancient Trade inside the Holy of Holiest of the Jerusalem Temple.
The most memorable thing done during this so-called dark period was perhaps the translation of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible from Hebrew to Greek (283 BC) during the Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt for the Library at Alexandria.
Then for 300 ong years, not a soul in Israel heard of Angels or Messengers or Visitors from God speak to them.
Then around the last quarter of the Century before the birth of John the Baptist, Rome under Pompey conquered Damascus and captured Jerusalem. The weak fractious Rulers of native Egypt and Syria sued for Peace with Pompey.
In Judea a bold efficient converted Idumean Jew by the name Herod rose in prominence as Leader, in the wider conflict, he shifted his support to Caesar when Pompey died and gained his confidence by his boldness and rich gifts. Ultimately he got ingratiated to Caesar and got himself declared ‘King Of The Jews’ by Rome.
Then for the first time in 300 years of silence, during the time of this Herod King of Judea (37 BC–6 AD) God spoke to an upright Priest Zachariah.
Let us follow what the contemporary Gospel Writer wrote:
(Lk.1: 5–17). “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayers has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
God and Angels do not identify their Names or appear to Human Beings in observable Forms.
And suddenly, unannounced, God spoke to one Priest through a supernatural Apparition. Priest Zachariah understandably, could not identify the Supernatural Being. Zachariah “was gripped with fear”. He did not know it was an Angel from God, for 300 years not a single person in Israel saw Angels or heard God, the people did not see or heard even Prophets for a very long time.
Very, Very hard conditions and long years of waiting passes if one is to hear God, Angels or Prophets; Nagaland must wait in Faith, Expectation and Hope, the Birth of John the Baptist in its heart.

By EMN Updated: Apr 27, 2016 11:30:07 pm