Numbers 6:22-27 Psalm 8 Galatians 4:4-7 Luke 2:15-21
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.
Well 2016 is behind us. For many that is a relief, for others a regret, whatever I need your help with this homily. The Person of the Year has been named, the Athletes of the Year too, both male and female, Newsmaker of the Year, Invention of the Year, Science Discovery of the Year. Movie of the Year and Actor of the Year are to come, and it will go on and on until Dishwasher of the Year is named so that every person will have had a shot at one title or another. Here’s where you can help, what name would you give to the year 2016 ?
What’s in a name ? In many cultures it is everything, it sets the course of the life of the one named. It did for Israel, its name means ‘to strive with God’ and they did. Naming reflects aspirations. My wife’s name means ‘Beautifully Delightful’ her mum and dad got that right. Our son’s name means ‘Infinite Wisdom’ that seems to be coming true. My Korean name is very simple, many people know it, and use it a lot, it`s `Hey You` ! As in `Hey you ! Get off my lawn !’ / Now what name would you give to 2017 so that it would become the character of the whole year ? And be careful because as when we pray what we say could be interpreted in more than the way in which you had hoped. If you opted for 2017 being named ‘Happiness’ could you imagine everyone being ‘happy !’ smoking Marijuana perhaps ? After all it will be legalised this year, is that what you would want ? Or what about naming that the year ‘Tax Free’ ! and discover that our health system collapses, even though we only pay McGuinty’s ‘Health Premium’, which, as we all know, is not a ‘Tax’ ! And what if you chose ‘Rest’ as the name of 2017, after all most of us are rushed off our feet doing this that and the other ? We might find that for the whole year nothing gets done ! Of course most men get accused of that already !! So maybe men should call the year ‘Ignore’ ! Frankly I don’t think that is going to work either, the ramifications are way too high ! So now, what would you call 2017 ?
What about Jesus ? Today is His naming ceremony as well as the day of His circumcision, which in its own way identified Him as a child of God (Genesis 17:10). For Jews ever since the time of Abraham every male child was made acceptable to God by circumcision. It’s not that women were prejudicially excluded but female circumcision is even more dangerous, mutilating and pointless because all women, like the Virgin Mary, were accepted by God at birth by virtue of virginity. For Christians, male and female, we were, and always will be, children of God through belief in Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
Jesus was really named ‘Joshua’ ! ‘Jesus’ is the Greek transliteration of Joshua, meaning ‘God is Salvation’. There were a number of people already named Joshua and we probably didn’t think that such a unique man should carry the same name as others, so we adopted the Greek version of His name – Jesus. He was named by the angel Gabriel when he appeared to Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31). Jesus is His personal name and was given to Him because He embodies God and Salvation for us. He does that through His teachings, His miracles, His Death and His Resurrection; Jesus saves us from damnation and death, and grants us life everlasting. Only He can do that because He is God, the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus is His personal name everything else is really a title. Christ, is a title, it means ‘Messiah’ and ‘God`s Anointed’. Anointed means set aside and chosen by God for a special purpose. And as you know Jesus is often referred to as Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, which sometimes gets another title added to it `Lord“ as in the ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ and sometimes that title stands alone as `The Lord` and everyone knows to whom that refers.
And then of course over the last few weeks we have heard Him called ‘Immanuel’ meaning ‘God is with us’ (Isaiah 7:14). That has two meanings, first God is physically with us in the Person of Jesus, and second “if God is for us, who is against us ?” (Romans 8:31). Then ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6) all titles that we can readily accept. For from whom else should we take counsel other than from Him in His Gospels ? Who other than a Mighty God could bring about such miracles as Jesus did ? Who else is from Everlasting to Everlasting, and Father because Jesus is One with the Father, the First Person of the Holy Trinity (John 10:30) ? Who else gives us Peace ? Peace, which passes all understanding because it is peace of mind and heart, a peace that allows us to accept or challenge, as needs must, the things of Life that will occur.
And then consider that He is the ‘Saviour of the World’, Saviour because He saves us from Death. ‘Redeemer of the World’, Redeemer because He wipes away our sins forever. The ‘Son of Man’ because He was born flesh and blood, just as we are. And the ‘Son of God’, because He was conceived by the Virgin Mary through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. One name many titles. And what do you call Him ? Friend ? Brother ? If friend; Abraham was called a friend of God because of his righteousness, because he believed, because he had faith. We are friends of God and He us, because we believe (Genesis 15:6, James 2:23). But even more so you may remember that as Jesus was being arrested He called His betrayer, Judas Iscariot, His ‘friend’ (Matthew 26:50). Why ? Because “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). And, lastly, we are His brothers and sisters because we put our belief into action, Jesus said “Whoever does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven is My brother and sister” (Matthew 12:50). Brothers and sisters that’s us !
So, after all is said and done, what’s in a name ?