Thursday, May 19, 2011

Names and Heresies

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Or so goes the famous line of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I won’t pretend to know much about this line or the play either (don’t worry, I know the gist of it), but that line has always bothered me. It seems in blatant contradiction to another famous line:

Therefore God has highly exulted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

That at the NAME of Jesus… and nothing else. That name is powerful. The idea of names, especially in Judaism and Christianity, is very important. Your name was who you were. Not a representation, symbol or identifying sound, but precisely who you are. This is why it was such a big deal for God to change your name. It meant you were completely different now. Who you are has changed: your name has changed. Just thinking about it, I can come up with many other examples. In the Old Testament, the name of God was only spoken once a year by the priest because it was that powerful. The Vatican also just declared in 2005 that Yahweh not be spoken or pronounced in any liturgical celebrations. Have you noticed some song lyrics have changed? Also, the idea of having a “good name”, and trying to uphold that.

Names mean something. They certainly aren’t arbitrary. Obviously the name of God means something, but what about human-given names? Do they mean anything? I suppose one could make the argument that anything given by God is sacred, but something given by humans may not be. I mean, some people name their children things like Petal Blossom Rainbow and Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo (and yes, these girls are all siblings!). What about those names? What if you don’t like your name, or it doesn’t seem to quite fit who you are?

I’d still have to think these names are very important and isn’t just a name among other names. It is you! That is your name! We learned in the Gospel this past Sunday that the shepherd calls his own sheep by name. If that name could be replaced with the same effect, do you think Jesus would do that instead? Well, it can’t because that name means a whole lot. You recognize that name, and you follow the one who calls it. Before you are even baptized the Church asks the parents what name is given to the child. From the beginning, our name is what calls us to God.

One more thing (since I feel I’m on a roll) when you get to heaven, God will give you a name that only He will call you and only you know. How ridiculously awesome is that? If that doesn’t show the power behind a name I don’t know what will.

And while I was thinking more about this, I realized too how ideas such as whether names are important or not impact how we think about other things. Specifically in regards to Truths about God. I think that is why the Church has always been such a strong fighter against heresies. We must think about God rightly if we are to have a solid faith in Him. Some great saints spent their lives fighting heresies. They could have been helping the poor or something instead. Why supposedly waste all that time and energy on correcting a silly idea? Because ideas matter A LOT! A simple idea will affect how you think about other things, and will also usually affect your actions as well. And if you have the wrong idea about God (aka, a heresy), wow, will that lead you to some awful places.

It may seem useless to most people why the Church is so adamantly opposed to ordaining women (not to mention not even having the ability to do so). But this matters a lot. It affects how we see Christ, how He relates to us, gives Himself to us, and how we respond to that love. A simple idea will have massive consequences. Just look at what the idea of a woman’s choice has gotten us. The culture of death is everywhere, and it all started from an idea.

So, in conclusion (because I think I’ve gone on way too long after so long a silence), names are freaking awesome and the Church rocks and will fight heresies to the death. And that’s the Church and God I want to serve! Have a blessed day!

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