thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Readings may be found here
Names are very important. To know a person’s name is to grow closer to them. In the book of Exodus, when God reveals the Divine Name to Moses, the Lord links that name, often translated as “I Am Who Am,” to the notion that God is with the people, in relationship with them: “I am the God of your father, he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…” (v. 6) The Lord goes on to speak of His desire to deliver the people from their suffering. Even the Name itself might be read as “I am with you.”
In the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, there is a deep reverence for the Name of God. In fact, the Name itself is never pronounced. Instead, wherever the Name appeared in the text, readers would substitute “Adonai,” or “the Lord” for the Divine Name. (When there was still a Temple, the High Priest uttered the Name in the Holy of Holies on the day of Yom Kippur.)
The New Testament is clear in proclaiming that Jesus is more than a holy man or great prophet. He is the Visitation of the Living God. In the gospels and the letters, He is often called “Lord” or “the Lord.” This language reveals the conviction of His exalted status, for this is the language used by Israel to address the Most High God. In the Acts, we heard yesterday how the Apostles preach and heal in “the Name of Jesus” – again an indication of the identity of the Risen One. In the passage from Luke today we hear again of the message to be preached “in His name.” Paul proclaims it as well – “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow…” (Phil. 2:10)
Yet even as the New Testament draws on the reverence for the Name of God, there is something changed and new here. For Christian believers do pronounce the Name! By the faithfulness of Jesus, we have been drawn by Him into a new possibility of communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit. We do not fear to pronounce His Name, we shout it from the rooftops. What’s in a Name? Mercy, forgiveness, redemption, everlasting love!