Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him.
He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today we celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist. In both the first reading and the Gospel, we see the power of a name. Two of our great prophets, Isaiah and John, were both called from the womb to serve God. It was here that they were given their names, names that would come to embody much more than their human existence. Their names would become integral parts of our movement towards the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom.
Reflecting on our own names, we see our journeys. Our names have amassed our life experiences in such a way that they contain much more than several letters. Our identities are wrapped up in the cumulative experiences of our names. Somehow, what we are called serves as a symbol of our lifelong development. There is great power in the names we assign.
Providing a name moves us beyond simple understanding and allows us to construct a story. God names “Isaiah” and “John” because they are instruments in the Kingdom. Their names will play a fundamental role in the creation story. Names have significance. What does your name mean to you? How do others hear your name?
—Liliana Mamani Condori is a Peruvian lawyer pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies at Boston College. Sam Hay is finishing his MA in Theology and Ministry at B.C., and currently works for its School of Education.
Oh, Lord my God,
You called me from the sleep of nothingness
merely because in your tremendous love
you want to make good and beautiful beings.
You have called me by my name in my mother’s womb.
You have given me breath and light and movement
and walked with me every moment of my existence.
I am amazed, Lord God of the universe,
that you attend to me and, more, cherish me.
Create in me the faithfulness that moves you,
and I will trust you and yearn for you all my days.
—Joseph Tetlow, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!