What’s In a Name? – Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus ~ Br. Michael Marshall, Novice
If you consider that God is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him. See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him. 1 John 2:29-3:6
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34
In William Shakespeare’s story Romeo and Juliet we find the quote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” We also can look up any name to find its meaning; such as Michael meaning “one who is like God, or Elizabeth meaning “my God is abundance”. So essentially each name, whether it is an object or a person has significance in this world. We especially can find this to be true in the readings for today.
As much as the historical tradition in Judaism is that one cannot speak the name of God, who they refer to as YHWH, because it is considered to use His name in vain or shows disrespect toward the Almighty Powerful One; we see in the first reading that John the Evangelist is explaining to the community at large who God is, even using the name “God”. He mentions that there is a purpose for a lifestyle in order to have a relationship with God, and encourages the people to keep in mind why this relationship is important.
Throughout the Gospels, we can find many references to Jesus being called the Son of God. We can find it in other Gospels as early as the angel Gabriel visiting Mary telling her that she will bear a son – the Son of the Most High. We also find reference to Jesus being called the Prince of Peace, but one of the most significant names of all is Emmanuel which means “God with us.”
We read in the Gospel that John the Baptist identifies Jesus as two very important names; identifying Him as the Lamb of God, and the Son of God. These names are important because they directly point to the purpose of why Jesus existed on Earth, as well as why He still exists today after the Resurrection. What does the Lamb of God point toward? In Jewish tradition, the sacrifice of a lamb is part of Passover Feast; an event remembering and thanking God for sparing the firstborn. We as Christians refer to Jesus’ last Passover as the Last Supper, at which Jesus explains to His disciples that He would suffer and die as a sacrifice for humanity in order for us to have a right relationship with God.
In the Gospel lesson for today the important thing for our discussion here is to take note here is how John the Baptist witnessed a dove descending down upon Jesus, which was a fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah 11 explaining that a dove would descend down upon the Son. So, we know the purpose of Jesus was to be the Savior of the World to free us from sin; regardless of being called the Lamb of God or Son of God. In the end, just as God in heaven is Holy, SO IS Jesus – hence we celebrate this Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
What are we to take from the readings and this educational lesson to apply to our own lives? John the Evangelist cannot be any clearer… Our unholy actions and behaviors distance us from God.
We need to always remember that, regardless of God desiring to have a right relationship with us through the sacrifice of His son, and that He will never give up on us, AND we need to do our part in that relationship. AND WHAT IS OUR PART??? Calling upon the Holy Name of Jesus… For example, when we feel discouraged about life, we should ask Jesus to help us instead of turning to unhealthy habits to deal with the issues. When we feel tempted by Satan, we need to call out to Jesus to help us fight off Satan.
Heavenly Father, help us keep in mind our actions and behaviors, and may we recognize when we have put distance between ourselves and you. We ask this through Christ, your Holy Son, our Lord. Amen.
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