I don't have time right now to finish my series on the Mass, which I was hoping to finish before Advent, but I will finish it whenever I get a chance. In the meantime, I've been thinking some about the names of Jesus. It is the topic that I have to present for RCIA next week. I am so prepared, that I haven't even gotten to the point of looking up the actual names. Other than it will obviously be important to discuss "Jesus" (Yeshua, "God saves") and Christ (Greek) or Messiah (Hebrew), "Anointed".
To be perfectly honest, it's taken me quite some time to even wrap my head around the idea of how a discussion of the names of Jesus is important to people preparing to enter the Catholic Church. Not that I want to belittle it, but really? The names of Jesus compared to topics like the Trinity, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Mass, the Bible, Tradition, etc.
My mistake is that my concept of names is that of a modern person with a Western background. Think of naming babies. What comes to mind? Some of the discussion around baby names:
1) Do both parents like the sound of the name?
2) How do the initials work?
3) Is it unique enough?
4) Is it too unique (or weird, as the case may be)?
5) Is there a family member that the child is named for?
Those are just some of the things that we think about. The question is, do we ever really think about what a name means? What it means to us, yes, but not what the name itself means. Now, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with our method of figuring out names. I think it's fine. It's just that looking at names in this way does nothing to prepare me for the talk I have to give next week.
In ancient Hebrew times, names were much different. Names revealed something essential about who the person is. To know someone's name is to know that person. A name wasn't chosen based on whether someone liked the way it sounded. It was given because it was something about who that person was. This is why name changes in the Bible are so significant. Changing a name in the Bible often reveals a changing in a person's mission. Abram became Abraham (father of a multitude) when he was to become the father of nations. Simon became Peter (rock) when he was to become the rock on which the Church was built.
Knowing the names of Jesus does not merely help us to recognize His different names and titles. It helps us to understand who He is, and what His mission is. If we know His mission, we can see how He fulfilled it in His own life, and how He is continuing to fulfill it through us, His Church.
Who is He?
He is Lord.
Lamb of God.
Prince of Peace.