St. Elizabeth was the wife of Zachariah and mother of John the Baptist. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins so naturally Jesus and John the Baptist would be cousins. In the gospel of Luke, St. Elizabeth is explained as someone who has never committed an evil act, but she was barren most of her life. In her elder years, her husband, Zachariah, was approached by the Angel Gabriel who promised him that his wife would bare him a son. St. Elizabeth is remembered for crying out “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” when her baby leapt with joy in her womb at the presence of Mary pregnant with Jesus, our Savior. Elizabeth is believed to have been 88 years old when she gave birth to John the Baptist.
Before Zachariah and Elizabeth were married they both were considered to be upper class. The upper class, descendants of Aaron, lived around Jerusalem and although many were in the Priesthood they were very proud, prejudice, selfish, over indulgent men. But there were some that were humble such as the old priest Zachariah. Zachariah name means “the Lord remembers”. Back then the law required that a priest marry only someone with a high reputation, so Zachariah chose the daughter of a priest, and also a descendant of Aaron. She even bore the name of Aaron’s wife, Elizabeth, whose name means “the oath of God.” Zachariah and Elizabeth’s names together mean: The Lord remembers his Oath.
After Zachariah and Elizabeth married their humble hearts collided. Unlike the rest of the descendants of Aaron they did not feel the need to put on a show. They cared more about what God thought of their hearts than what others thought of them which caused their marriage to take root and flourish.
Although Zachariah and Elizabeth loved each other and wanted to extend that love to children, God made Elizabeth barren. There may not have been any sins that caused this but God had given them this hurtle in order for them to grow. In that time, others judged barren couples, assuming they had some terrible secret sin. Zachariah and Elizabeth knew this was not true because they were righteous before God. Zachariah could have divorced Elizabeth for being barren. It was acceptable in that day and age, but Zachariah would do no such thing. Instead he prayed and continued with his work. Although it may have seemed impossible Zachariah knew anything was possible with the Lord.
Zachariah was visited by an Angel while he was spreading incense over coals inside the temple of the Lord. He was naturally frightened of the angel but the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zachariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” (Luke 1: 13-14) The angel went on to tell him that this child will not be an ordinary child. He would be filled with the holy spirit even while in his mother’s womb and he will turn children in Israel to God. Zachariah had prayed for so long that he no longer believed he was destined to have a son.
In disbelief Zachariah questioned the Angel as to how he should know this is true, and that is when the Angel revealed himself as Gabriel, and said he was sent by God to deliver the good news. Gabriel then told Zacharias that he would not be able to speak anymore until the birth since he did not believe him. Although it was hard not being able to speak, Zachariah felt that it was a sign of God confirming the news is true, and this strengthened Zachariah faith. After the birth and the circumcision on the 8th day, the relatives and friends tried to call the baby Zachariah because this was the custom but Elizabeth said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” (Luke 1:60). The women then exclaimed that there were no relatives with that name so they ask Zachariah what his name should be called and he wrote on a tablet, “John is his name.” Suddenly his mouth was free and he blessed God. The Lord remembered his oath. The people could then see that God was with this child.