The child will not be called Zechariah, like his father, but John. Zechariah means "God reminds." The child cannot be called "God reminds," because God’s promises are about to become reality. Everything that was predicted is about to take place in Zechariah and Elizabeth 's humble home. John's prophetic mission announces a new, not yet revealed face of God, the face of His mercy, His immense mercy. Indeed he shall be called Yohanne, meaning "God is mercy." He manifests His mercy by visiting his people, "as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old" (Luke 1:67-70). The name indicates then the identity and the mission of the child: John announces Jesus as the promised Son, the incarnation of God the Father’s mercy. The most daring and unexpected prophecy in all history, the Word-prophecy that announces the incarnation of God is fullfilled. The promised Word is no longer just a sound, an object of study, a prayer, a meditation, an expectation; the Word fills the womb of Elizabeth and Mary with new, unexpected life. The Word, which rendered the dubious Zechariah deaf and dumb, now becomes flesh and a name is inscribed on a tablet, becoming a sign, a visible sacrament, an unmistakable mediation. Zechariah wrote the name of his son on a tablet for all to see, and now that written Word, just as the one announced by Jesus, is the cause for much amazement, anxiety, and fear (Luke 1:63). The name of John engraved on a tablet reveals the last mission and the end of the Old Testament and marks the beginning of a new mission and the first reading of the New Testament. The tablet is the hinge of the history of salvation: God's mercy, revealed and embodied by Jesus, reconnects the shreds of human history with the shining threads of the bright wedding garment that God is preparing in is heart for all His children. The tablet foreshadows another hinge-tablet which would be engraved approximately thirty years later. It would be engraved by Pilate and hung on Jesus' cross. Although engraved by an enemy, for once and for all it reveals the identity and the mission of He who the world was waiting for because he was the only one capable of sanctioning the new and eternal alliance. It reveals the name and the mission of the Lord, the Prince of Peace, the Crucified and Risen Lord: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:19). Even this inscription amazed those who were in Jerusalem for the Passover, and it will continue to cause wonder and astonishment, denial and faith, love and violence until humanity learns to do all and everything in mercy, for mercy, and with mercy.
It will be that way some day. Indeed even today it can be that way.