Advent Reflection – Day 25

Image result for images of names

“When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.” – Lk 1:59-63

So, what’s in a name?

If we look to the name John, it’s meaning in Hebrew is: Yahweh is gracious; has shown favor.  This name certainly reflects the situation of Elizabeth and Zechariah and their having difficulty in conceiving a child. Also, the naming of a child has many traditions and is varied depending upon one’s culture as well as the historical time period.  We can surmise from the story that the tradition at the time of Elizabeth and Zechariah was to name the child after someone from the family.  It could be the father, mother, or perhaps a deceased relative.  This is the case even today in the naming of a child.  In this gospel story, the name Elizabeth and Zechariah give to their child, John, reflects more upon them and their relationship to God than the child.

In the story of creation, Genesis 2:19, God brings to the man all the plants and animals to see what he would name them.  “Whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.”

I do sometimes wonder what is the name by which God chooses to call me?

Here is a poem by Zelda…

EACH OF US HAS A NAME
Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents
Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear.

 

Each of us has a name
given by the mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by our death.

(Zelda, “Each Man Has a Name,” as adapted by Marcia Falk in The Book of Blessings, New York: Harper Collins, 1996, p. 106ff.)
Photo taken from www.enkivillage.com
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