Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Make You a Light

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.  Isaiah 49:6

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:66

"The order of the Vesper Psalms being thus settled, let the rest of the Hour -- lesson, responsorial, hymn, verse and canticle -- be carried out as we prescribed above."
Chapter 18: In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said
Rule of Saint Benedict

Naming is a special task in the Bible.  From the story of Adam, one of the powers invested in humanity was to name those animals and people in the world.

The biblical concept of naming was rooted in the ancient world's understanding that a name expressed essence. To know the name of a person was to know that person's total character and nature. Revealing character and destiny, personal names might express hopes for the child's future. Changing of name could occur at divine or human initiative, revealing a transformation in character or destiny.[i]

The naming of the servant in Isaiah and the description of the servant’s vocation extends beyond the restoration of Israel in order to bring the knowledge of Israel’s God to the rest of the earth.  Thus the connection of Isaiah to the birth of John the Baptist is made all the more concrete.

The naming of John was equally as significant.  From David’s descendants God promised to provide Israel with a savior, Jesus.  John the Baptist – from the womb -- heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance (change) to all the people of Israel and beyond. 

Corporations call is branding.  Parents call it naming. 
What does the name your parents gave you mean?  How has it defined your personal brand and made you unique?

God gave human beings the ability and power to name. Just as God separates light from darkness and dry land from water, this biblical text affirms that humans–created in the image of God–may seek to bring order to our chaotic and dynamic world through the process of naming. [ii]

Each of us has a name given by God and given by our parents. Each of us has a name given by our stature and our smile and given by what we wear./ Each of us has a name given by the mountains and given by our walls./ Each of us has a name given by the stars and given by our neighbors./ Each of us has a name given by our sins and given by our longing./ Each of us has a name given by our enemies and given by our love./ Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and given by our work./ Each of us has a name given by the seasons and given by our blindness./ Each of us has a name given by the sea and given by our death. (Zelda, "Each Man Has a Name," as adapted by Marcia Falk in The Book of Blessings, New York: Harper Collins, 1996, p. 106ff.)

Just as the monks give order to their day by praying the Psalms in a prescribed order, we give order to our world by the names we use and the names we give. 

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