Thursday, January 03, 2008

Holy Name

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Shakespeare would say that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but for the Bible, that's not the case. Adam was given the ability to "name the animals." That meant a God-like quality! (If he had taken this grace more seriously, perhaps the snake's promise "You will be like gods" would have been less tempting. He would have said, "I have that already.") Jacob became Israel only after he had wrestled with the angel of the Lord (a biblical way of saying "God himself", while avoiding the name of God). The name of God was revealed to Moses, and then invoked only once a year, and only by the high priest, lest it be profaned.
God was not so careful with his name once he became incarnate. Even the demons called him by name, "What have you to do with us, Jesus, Son of God Most High?!" The poor called him by name, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" We get to call him by name, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"
What's in a name? Intimacy, power, communion. That's what God offers us in the name of Jesus.

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