“To those who believe in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). His very name conveys His identity and His mission. As Matthew records, the Archangel said to Joseph: “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). The meaning of His name — “God saves” — points toward the presence of God in His very person, which all men can call upon. He is the savior of mankind. His was the blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. His was the name that works miracles, heals the sick, gives voice to the mute, gives sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. His is the name that is highly exalted by God above every other name, so that at His name every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess, that JESUS is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:10-11).
The name of Jesus is the name of God, but it’s also the name of a man. Thus, His name and our name have several things in common. Every name has meaning and is given for a reason. Every name is also given to the whole of a person, regardless of what they do. Names are not a surface-level reality, but encompass all of us, the whole of our person. To give someone our name then is to say that we trust them, we want to get to know them, we are telling them who we are, and entering into a relationship with them. Additionally, names are uniquely personal. Yes, we give animals names, but if they exchange owners, the name can easily change. If a child is abandoned by its parents, the adoptive parents do not get to rename the child. Therefore, human names reflect that we are persons. If I were to say the name of your spouse, child, friend, or anyone you know, various things would come to mind: the things you know about them, what they have done in your life, how they look — everything you know about their person. All this is also true of the name of the God-man, Jesus. How amazing it is to know that God trusts us, that He wants to know us and get to know us, and that He wants a relationship with us.
The relationship He desires is not only friendship. The prophet Isaiah says that He will call us by a new name (see 62:2). If names reflect the whole of our person, then to receive a new name seems to include becoming a new person. This suggests a change in who we are, and what we are to do. We see this in Genesis when Abram’s name is changed to “Abraham;” first he was the elder of a tribe but with the name change he became the “Father of Nations.” This happens also in Matthew's Gospel when the fisherman Simon is named Peter and becomes the first Pope. A new name conveys a radical change in the person. In modern times this can be seen in marriage, when a new name is taken by the bride, who has entered a radically different way of life — that of a spouse, and eventually a mother. If God is going to call us by a new name, the change will be similar to marriage but even greater.
The book of Revelation says that if we conquer, if we hold fast to what we have (the faith), then the Lord will write the name of His Father, the name of His Father’s city, and His own new name upon us. For through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are given the family name of God. All that is His, will be ours, and He will be ours, and we will be His, similar to marriage, but even greater. For we will be called on a personal level, not just to be like a spouse to God, but to be like God Himself. We are called to be Jesus. He has called us by name, and by a new name; a name that is His own. Our mission, our new personal identity is that of Jesus Christ!
Therefore, what is true of His name must also be true of ours. If His name conveys that He is the great reconciler between God and man, then we are also called to bring prodigal children back to their Father. If Jesus is God enfleshed, then we are called to enflesh God in all of our actions. If by the Lord’s blood we are saved, then we are called to avoid sin, even to the point of shedding our blood, for the further proclamation of the Gospel. If the Lord worked many miracles to convey the Father’s care for His children, then so should we. This seems an impossible task. Yet, as the Angel Gabriel said to the Blessed Mother, “Nothing is impossible for God.”
Prayer is the key to making the impossible possible. The name of Jesus is central to any truly Christian prayer. This can be seen in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is with the name of Jesus that the Apostles worked miracles. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that we can say Jesus is Lord (See 1 Corinthians 12:3). It is the Spirit that intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray properly (See Romans 8:26). It is the Spirit that dwells in you because of your Baptism. The same Spirit that deepens, nourishes, and strengthens our relationship with Jesus at Mass, through communion. Indeed it is through the Sacraments of the Church that the impossible task, being a child of God, is possible if only we believe in the power of the name of Jesus.
Tyson was born and raised in California, USA. He received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. He is currently a postulant for the Franciscan TORs in Loretto, Pennsylvania and is there praying his way to becoming a Franciscan Friar with the TORs. Having spent nearly a month in Gibraltar during the summer of 2016, he has developed a special love for the people of the Rock.