Names can carry such power, weight and heft. We have seen that in our recent presidential election.... chants of Hill-a-ry! and O-ba-ma! and Barack. Modern culture has seen this with Madonna and Marilyn Monroe. Throughout history we have seen this: Churchill, Hitler, Napoleon, Charlemagne, to mention but a few. Names can carry with them important symbolism and power. Sometimes the person gets lost and the image and symbol are all that remain.
Today is the feast of The Holy Name. Lesser Feasts and Fasts tells us that in older times this was the feast of the circumcision, as it is the eighth day after the birth of Jesus...another powerful name. Names are important. We see that in our Genesis reading where God meets with Abram, when he was 99, and tells him that he is going to be the ancestor of a multitude of nations...and changes his name to Abraham. At the same time he changes Sarai's name to Sarah. God makes a covenant with Abraham and Sarah telling them that all generations must keep this covenant: that when all male children are 8 days old they shall circumcise the flesh of their foreskins. Moses continued this covenant, found in Leviticus 12.3. Thus the older version of today's feast day.
Mary is told the name to give her child, which is done: this name Jesus, which means Savior and Deliverer. On this New Year's Day, with parades and football games, keeping present in our minds and hearts this powerful name can help change our lives, our outlook on life, and keep us focused on what is really important. Other powerful names fade with time, this one does not.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.