Wednesday, January 2, 2008


(An excerpt of a sermon by Karl Rahner set these thoughts in motion.)

We are the beginning a new year, the year of Grace 2008. Of course for the Church the new year began four weeks ago with the first Sunday in Advent and this is the beginning of the secular year. As much as we might like to live in the Church or in the cloister, we ae called to live out our discipleship in the world, just as Jesus was called to live out his Passion in the world. We only have to look at the beginning of the 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to Luke or the beginning of the 3rd chapter to see that the story of Jesus’ birth is set in the world. We find mention of Emperor Augustus and Quirinius and Emperor Tiberius and Pontius Pilate and Herod and Philip, secular rulers, before we even find mention of two religious leaders, Annas and Caiaphas. It was in the world that Jesus shared the Good News with fishermen and tax collectors and lepers and prostitutes and even, when pressed, with a Syrophoenician woman and her daughter.

In the Church Year this day is the Feast of the Holy Name. In the history of salvation, names are important. The Divine Name, which we out of respect for our ancestors in the faith will rarely say, means something like, I am who I am or I will become what I will become. Perhaps another way to understand it is as God’s way of saying, “You can never really know who I am, so stop worrying about it.” The Name of Jesus, however, tells us something important about this One whose Name we can never really know. It tells us that this One is One who saves. We know that we can’t save ourselves. We’ve tried and we’ve failed. But here in Jesus we meet the One who saves. In Jesus we can confidently claim the name of sinner. We can, in a phrase from Roman Catholic priest and theologian James Alison, embrace the joy of being wrong.

We are called to live this year of Grace under the sign of the Holy Name of Jesus, to live in faithful trust in the One who saves.

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