What’s in a name? I recall the question but did not know its origin until I discovered the line in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette. In the tragic love story, Juliette was concerned about Romeo’s last name - it was a curse in the mind of her parents. The question was asked, what’s in a name?
It is not what’s in a name, rather what is behind the name, or who is behind the name that is important. It is the quality of the person who carries the name that ought to matter.
A comment Jesus made in John’s gospel today, and the Saint whose feast day is today, got me thinking about what is in a name.
The comment that Jesus made in his priestly prayer to the Father was, “I made known to them Your name and I will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.”
In bible study we are told that to know "the name" is to have intimate knowledge of someone. In John’s gospel today, Jesus’ prayer to the Father is certainly a confirmation of how intimate Jesus and the Father are. His prayer that we might be one as He and the Father are one; the love that the Father had for Jesus before the foundation of the world, all speak to this intimacy.
What’s in a name? All who believe in His name have the power to become sons and daughters of God. Saint Paul certainly knew the power of Jesus as evidenced in his defense of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
But it was Saint Bernadine of Siena who in his pursuits, popularized a devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. A Franciscan reformer in the 1400 he preached with a wooden tablet along side him that had the letters IHS engraved in the wood, Greek letters for Jesus Christ. His detractors thought he was superstitious however they failed to grasp the significance of the name of Jesus. Saint Bernadine knew and preached about Jesus, making known the love the Father has for each one of us.
What’s in a name? Older generations appeared to have acquired a unique intuition of the importance of a name. Observing them praying, when mention is made of the name of Jesus, there is a slight bow of the head.
At the name of Jesus every head shall bow, every tongue confess Him King of glory now.
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!