A name with a mission
Sunday, January 14, 2018 Second Sunday in
Ordinary Time First
Reading: 1 Sam 3:3b-10.19 Second Reading: 1 Cor 6:13c-15a Gospel Reading: John 1:35-42
John was standing in Bethabara beyond the Jordan with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. He turned and saw them following, and he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Rabbi (which means Master), where are you staying?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he stayed and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said and followed Jesus. Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ), and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John but you shall be called Cephas” (which means Rock).
(Daily Gospel in the
Jesus had the habit of changing names of his followers. In today’s Gospel he changed the name of Simon to Cephas (Peter). According to a commentary by St. John Chrysostom, Jesus’ practice of changing names takes us back to the time when God would name a person in accordance with a given mission. Accordingly he renamed Abram “Abraham”, Sarai “Sarah,” and Jacob “Israel,” (Gn 17,5ff.; 32,29).
While we didn’t get our names directly from Jesus the names we got at baptism are nevertheless sacred. They are supposed to define our mission too. This explains the old practice of naming children according to the saint of the day listed in the almanac. The welfare of the child demands that he is not given just any insignificant name. This was cited as basis by a registrar in Germany in refusing to put the name Lucifer into the birth certificate of a child (dw.com, accessed 09 Jan 2018).
Today it seems parents give their children just any name they like without looking at its mission-defining value. A mother insisted to name her child armalite in memory of her husband who died as a soldier fighting in Mindanao. Since the mother wasn’t serious anyway, the priest proposed that the infant be named baby armalite. Funnier still is the practice of combining the names of parents. Bulyong and Lusita wanted their child named “Bulsita”. More ambitious parents borrow American names that are so incompatible with the looks of their babies. We squander the precious opportunity to give the child a name that will remind them to live a life with a mission. –(Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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