Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Proper of the Day: Holy Name of Jesus

On this day, eight days after the birth of Jesus Christ, the Church observes the major Feast of the Holy Name. Under Torah, a baby is circumcised and named eight days after birth. This is one in a series of feasts based on the date of Christmas. Some others are the Presentation, 40 days after Christmas on Feb. 2, and the Annunciation, nine months before Christmas on March 25.

Names connote identity, and identity is more and more important in this technological age. Identity theft is a very serious problem that affects millions of Americans every year. There are services one can subscribe to that watch one's credit records and send mail or email any time there is any change, including an inquiry, which often denotes the opening of an account. I think these are a very good idea and in fact I subscribe to one myself. (Contact me offline for a recommendation.) But on this day in particular, I wonder how we Christians protect our own Christian identities from theft. We are named at our own Baptisms and sealed with the cross of Christ forever. But there is so much in the world that can cause us, perhaps even inadvertently on our part, to forget who we really are, and more importantly, Whose we really are. For me, the daily recitation of the Office and the regular reception of the Eucharist help remind me regularly that I am indeed Christ's own, and that my name in the Book of Life can never be blotted out. And that goes for all of us. When you feel like my identity is being takenaway from you, even the praying of the Lord's Prayer - "Our Father in heaven" can be a help. The word our denotes possession - we are God's children. And it's plural too; we are never alone in our lives as believers.

On the Feast of the Holy Name, let us always remember that our names, our true names, are known by God and can never be taken away from us.

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


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