So, today’s mass reading touched me and I’d like to share a few things. June 1st happened to be my name feast day – St Justin. It was given to me at my infant baptism and I always identified with it to the extent that it reminded me of justice and made me appreciate why I became a lawyer. When people would discover this middle name of mine, they would grin and I would always respond with “Didn’t you know that I was destined to be a lawyer?”
Now, my confirmation name is Pauline which I chose to emulate Saint Paul the lawyer, but that’s a story for another day. So today’s reading of John 17:26 reads thus: “As I reveal your name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I also may be in them.”
NAME AS IDENTITY
So, I was pondering upon why Jesus would place emphasis on revealing a name. Then it occurred to me that a name denotes identity. Also, as a matter of courtesy and indication of entering into a relationship, names are exchanged. I am one of those people who make excuses for not remembering people’s names. I do better with faces but when I realized the importance of names, I resolved that this is something upon which I need to improve. A name follows you and is the basis upon which your identity is revealed. Not to remember someone’s name is robbing them of their identity and showing their lack of relevance in your life.
This is why Jesus prays to the Father that He will continue to reveal His name – the God of all ages, the Am that I am, to us. To reveal God’s name is to continue to make Him relevant to us; to make us depend on Him at all times and in all ways – to reveal His name. This unwrapping of the identity of God is indeed a journey. As we await Pentecost, only the Holy Spirit with its gifts of knowledge, understanding, counsel and wisdom can help us to delve deeper into the Name of God being revealed to us.
The more we allow God’s name to be revealed to us, the more we become closely connected to Him as we draw nearer to Him in intimacy. We become the chosen vessel upon which God pours out His love and inhabits us. When God’s name is revealed, we draw from the power of His name, of which Philippians 2:10-11 says “That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth…to the glory of God the father.”
The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus celebrated in January, of which the symbol “IHS” represents, goes further to stress the power in the name of Jesus. It also cautions us against sacrilege whereby we do not reverence the name which is above all names and by which prayers are answered as stressed in John 13:14 where Jesus says “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it”
I had actually purposed to do some research on Saint Justin today but hadn’t been able to, so I was appreciative when the Holy Spirit led the priest on June 1 to talk about Saint Justin using the letters of his name.
1. “J” stood for him being a just man whose righteousness led to his martyrdom. Romans 1:15 refers to the conduct of the just who “shall live by faith”
2. “U” referred to him being unique, as he had his own way of explaining scripture and things of God. He understood that he was unique in the manner in which God loved, called and chose him for his kingdom assignment.
3. “S” stands for sound and solid which is seen in his firm challenge of heresy and the soundness of his theology in the face of conflicting views. This unwavering stance to always be ready defend the faith urged in 1 Peter 3:15 distinguished him from being just a mere follower.
4. “T” referred to his trustworthiness, as Jesus saw it fit to trust Him with the Faith and others could also trust him.
5. “I” describes St Justin as an intercessor, especially since as a priest he prayed for his flock. He likened the intercessory role to that of Jesus who is seen to pray for us in John 17:9 where he says “I pray for them.” He also stressed that he was humble and did not focus on himself but on others.
6. “N” stands for natural which referred to the genuine nature of Saint Justin which was devoid of all fakeness and sycophancy. In this era of counterfeit, this quality is rare and he invited us to try and imbibe it.
The priest invited us to emulate the acronym formed for Saint Justin. Not only are we to be just and unique, but also to have a sound and solid approach to things of God and intercede on behalf of the people to God. Furthermore, we needed to assess whether we can be trusted and whether God can trust us with His kingdom assignment, as we discharge our duties naturally and without any pretense.
What is truly in a name? Apart from the intimacy which we shall experience as Jesus continually reveals God’s name to us, we experience the power that comes from God’s name being revealed to us. We all have names that are used to identify us in God’s kingdom which have deep roots into our own identity. Indeed, next time someone refers to my baptismal name, I shall recall the acronym and reply “Don’t you know I was destined to emulate the nature of Saint Justin, the martyr?”
It is my prayer that God himself by and in the power of His name, shall be revealed to us in ever increasing measure as we draw closer to receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost. In so doing, we may in turn reveal God’s name to others and bring forth God’s kingdom, for as Acts 4:12 says:
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”