What’s In A Name?

Names are important.  As human persons we seem to know this intrinsically.  Expectant parents spend a great deal of effort choosing names for their children.  Throughout our lives, our friends, family, and our own personalities, often change those names.  What we are called- and what we call one another- is dynamic and has an impact on us and, in many ways, the paths our lives eventually take.

This weekend, we hear two very powerful Scripture readings about naming.  First, Samuel, a young serving boy sleeping in the Temple hears God calling him by name.  At first he’s confused and goes to Eli, believing that it’s he who called.  Finally, Eli tells the boy that his Lord is calling and that he should answer God if he hears his name again.  Samuel, hearing the Lord again, responds gladly to his name and grows up a favored servant of God.

Next, we hear the story of the naming of Peter by Jesus.  This is significant because he approaches Jesus as Simon, son of John.  Until now, he’s lived his life in what we can only assume is typical of a man of his station in those days.  After being introduced to Jesus, the Messiah, he is renamed by Christ for a new life, with new purpose.

So, then, what must this mean for us, who may not hear a booming voice from the heavens calling our name, who can’t expect to be taken by the hand to meet the person of Christ on earth?  It means everything.  God, Creator of all things, creating in love always, has known us, and named us, before we were even in our mother’s womb.

                You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
                I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;
                                wonderful are your works!
                My very self you knew;
                                my bones were not hidden from you,
                When I was being made in secret,
                                fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
                Your eyes foresaw my actions;
                                in your book all are written down;
                                my days were shaped, before one came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

 

Again and again in Scripture we see realizations and revelations of God’s forming us in the womb and his love for us even then.  Jeremiah 1:4-5, Job 31:15, and Isaiah 49:1-5 are but a few examples of the testimony of the prophets to the love of God before and during our earthly lives.

This great and early love for the human person is one of many reasons we mark with sadness the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion.  On January 22 people will gather from all over the state for prayer and protest in St. Paul.  The day begins at the Cathedral of St. Paul with a prayer service and then those who are able march from there to the steps of the State Capital.  God who knew us and created us, who loves us, loves and creates those unborn whose lives are at risk so early in their precious lives.  If you can be there, I would encourage you to give it a try.  It’s a moving and touching experience.  If you are unable to be there, you may consider praying for those who will be gathered, for our government leaders, and for the dignity of all human life.

Here at St. Peter’s we are making available to you an opportunity to pray before the Blessed Sacrament on the morning of January 22.  Following our 9am Mass, Adoration will take place until midday.  Beginning at 11:45am, we will pray together a rosary for the respect of life at all its stages, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  If you can, please join us.

Although on January 22 we remember specifically those who are never born, it’s important to remember that to God, all life is precious.  In a culture that increasingly devalues life, we need to take care to protect all life.  An end to euthanasia, to capital punishment, to gross disregard for the poverty and homelessness that steals lives through starvation, disease, and lack of shelter, must be sought in addition to an end to abortion.  Systematic murder of God’s beloved, in any form, wounds our humanity.  Because of God’s tremendous love for every one of us, and because the Lord has named each of us before knitting us in our mothers’ wombs, we must also love and protect one another, his beloved children.

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