My Name Is Not Winnie.

Dec. 18 Sunday Readings.

How did you get your name? Do you know the story of how you were named? How did 1892382-winnie_the_pooh_christopher_robin_walt_disney_characters_20639734_1240_768you decide on names for your kids?

A couple years ago my mom admitted that I am named after Christopher Robin from the popular children’s books, television, and movies. She often adds, “Aren’t you glad I didn’t name you Winnie the Pooh?” Yes, mom.

Maybe you were named after a family member or after someone your parents respected. Maybe  your parents tried to match you with the meaning of your name. Maybe your parents just liked the way your name sounded.

Whatever the case, your name is yours. Your name has powerful over you. Nothing stirs me to attention like someone shouting out my full name as if I am suddenly and certainly in trouble for something I undoubtably did.

In the gospel this week we hear how Joseph and Mary decided to name Jesus. God told them their son would be named Jesus. Think about it, they didn’t get to choose. One of the great joys of parenthood is that you get to name your children. You get to pick what people will call them (until middle school).

Mary and Joseph in, yet another, moment of profound obedience to God listen closely and do what that angel tells them, “you are to name Him Jesus.” Why? Jesus means “God saves.” Jesus’ very name tell us His mission. In the name of Jesus, we are reminded that God has come to save us. Jesus’ mission is to save us from slavery to sin and death and through him can live forever with the God who loves us without limit.

This Christmas, as you celebrate the coming of Jesus, remember that you are the object of Jesus’ mission. You are loved and you are His.

Live It:
Pray the name of Jesus. Try tomorrow to say, prayerful, the name of Jesus 12 times. How? Say Hail Marys (name of Jesus right in the middle). Invite Jesus in with the simple prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, Come!” Simply say the name of Jesus over and over as prayerful as you can, after all His name is a prayer!

“You can call me by my first name.” – Jesus (probably) Good Word for Sept. 27th

hello_my_name_is_jesusFor the complete Sunday Readings click here.

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I like to call people by name. Whether it is a waitress in a restaurant or ticket booth worker at the State Fair, I think using someone’s name is a sign of respect. My experience has been when I use someone’s first name; I get a little better service or sometimes even make someone else’s day a little better.

Names are powerful. Countless studies and antidotal examples demonstrate that greeting someone by name is enjoyable, engaging, and communicates, “You matter to me.” Business writers like Dale Carnegie have consistently declared the power in using someone’s name.

In our gospel this weekend John tells Jesus that someone is using Jesus’ name to drive out demons. A lot more happens in this gospel, but let’s just stop with this fact. This mysterious exorcist is driving demons out of possessed people simply by uttering Jesus’ name. How powerful is Jesus’ name? It has power over supernatural beings.

Obviously Jesus has power over all creation, including the supernatural, but even his name holds incredible power. Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

The reason that using God’s name in vain is on the list of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:7) is because God’s name holds power. To use God’s name is to call upon God. Even just saying the name “Jesus” is a prayer because saying it is calling out for Jesus to be near us.

This got me thinking; how often do I even speak the name of Jesus? I was raised to never use God’s name in vain, and have tried to raise my kids that way. But how often do I actually call upon Jesus? How often do I rely on Jesus in my day to day? Have my children ever seen me really turn towards Jesus in good and in bad times? Our home has crosses and crucifixes on the wall, but do we ever talk about them?

My kids know I pray, but I’m not sure they know how much I rely on Jesus.More than that, how much do I rely on Jesus? Maybe one reason the name of Jesus isn’t uttered often enough in my home is because I don’t turn to him enough. I want my children to have a deep, beautiful, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I want them to know, love, and serve God. I also know that faith is “caught” not “taught.” I can tell my children to do or have something, but if I have don’t have it or do it myself, it probably won’t stick with them.

The good news is that the solution to my probably is found in the problem itself. The best thing to do when I need to rely on Jesus more is to ask Jesus to help me rely on him more. The way to say the name of Jesus is to say his name while asking for the grace to fill our homes with the goodness of his name.

Is your home full of the name of Jesus? Do you rely on the power of Jesus’ name?

Live It:
Challenge for this week: Say Jesus’ name 3 times in front of others. Obviously, use Jesus’ name positively and intentionally. You can drop Jesus name in prayer or in casual conversation.

The Good Word for December 21 The fourth Sunday of Advent

For the complete Sunday readings click here. hello_my_name_is_jesus

God loves to name people. Have you ever noticed that? All throughout the Old Testament he is changing people’s names. The new names God gives always mean something. So it should be no surprise that when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to explain God’s plan, Gabriel tells Mary the name of God’s Son – Jesus.

Jesus means “God Saves.” By naming his Son Jesus, God is telling his people that it is through this baby boy that he intends to save the world once and for all. From our perspective, this makes sense and we’ve heard that truth a thousand times. However, for Mary and any first century Jew this would have been a radical claim. Somehow Mary accepts this truth, but asks the very practical question, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will come and overshadow her and that all things are possible with God. How does Mary respond? By saying yes. She agrees to the plan and tells Gabriel that she is God’s servant and whatever God wants, she will do.

I think a lot of us believe that Jesus is the savior of the world. I think a lot of us believe that Jesus is God. And I think a lot of us have a similar practical question, “How can I know this Jesus, if I can’t see him or hear him? How do I have a relationship with God when I don’t know if I’ve ever met God?”

The key here is to pay close attention to Gabriel’s response to Mary. Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…” It is through the Holy Spirit that God makes himself manifest in the world.

Then Mary says her beautiful “Yes!” When we say yes, then Jesus is someone who we begin to recognize. It is our “yes” that allows us to see all the ways that the person of Jesus is present to us.

How do we say “yes?” Honestly, with words and with actions. We pray saying, “Yes God I want to know you and be close to you. I want to see you and experience you. Help me to know you.” And then we act by attending Mass, praying daily, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, caring for the poor and vulnerable, loving the unlovable, feeding the hungry, sharing our lives with the estranged and more.

If you want to know Jesus Christ, seek him out and I guarantee you will find him. It all starts with God’s reaching out to us and our “yes” to his plan.

Live It:
Go to Mass this weekend and during Communion, tell God you want to have a close relationship with him.