Names are important because they stand for who we are. It’s said that hearing someone say our name is the sweetest sound to us. And how embarrassing when we forget someone’s name or misspell it! Sometimes children hurt each other by making fun of their names. People have their loved one’s names tattooed on them. God says he has our name tattooed on the palm of his hand! (Isaiah 49:16) Names are important to God too, judging from Scripture. In Genesis he calls out names and the things come to be. He gives Adam the power to name the animals. God had a habit of changing people’s names: Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Simon became Peter. The new name signified something about the person. (Did you ever notice how some people’s names fit their occupations like Dr. Tozzi the podiatrist and Dr. Bright the dentist.) Do you know what your baptismal name signifies?
In the past babies were named for saints who became their patrons. Some babies were named for the Church feast celebrated on the day of their birth, for example, Assumpta for the Feast of the Assumption and Josephat for St. Josephat. Some babies are named to honor a grandparent or other relative. Today babies are sometimes given unique or creative names such as Diamond, Apple, or Schylena.
When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, he asked God’s name and God revealed his personal name, I am who am, which we translate as Yahweh. Orthodox Jews have such reverence for God that they never speak or write God’s name. God even ordered us to treat his name with care (the second of the ten commandments).
Our most powerful petition is one in which we ask the Father for something in the name of Jesus. By the way, the name Jesus means “God saves.” Very appropriate, isn’t it? Jesus has many titles: Lord, Savior, Christ, Divine Physician, Sacred Heart, King of Kings, Good Shepherd, Lamb of God, and so on. Do you have a favorite?
After the resurrection, when Mary Magdalen failed to recognize the risen Lord, he pronounced her name, Mary, and instantly she recognized him. At the end of the world, God will call us forth to a resurrection ourselves. At that time hopefully our names will be written in the book of life.
Receiving a new name may indicate a new stage of life. Some men and women religious are given a new name. So does the Pope. A woman usually takes on the name of her husband. In Revelation 2:17, God says that to those who conquer evil and keep faith, he will give a white stone on which is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it. What might your new name be?
Why did your parents name you as they did? What does your name mean?
I was going to add Carey Landry’s song “I Have Called You by Name,” but came across this delightful song that you might enjoy . . .