The Naming of the Lord-The Eighth Day of Nativity Fr. Shnork Souin

What’s in a name?

We are familiar with the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) where Juliet asks Romeo “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare’s lyrical tale of “star-cross’d” lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called “Montague”, not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to “deny (his) father” and instead be “new baptized” as Juliet’s lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of the play, and is one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes.

So, what’s in THE Name, Jesus?

God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Philippians 2:9

His name is holy, and life giving. Today we celebrate the Lord’s. naming.

Names have always been important. We all know very famous people by name, historical characters, athletes, pop stars, politicians, teachers, philosophers and scientists to name but a few.

If I say HITLER, you think one think, if I say Tom Brady, you think something very different. Each name incites a reaction, good or bad. Some invoke inspiration and some hope.

No name has invoked more hope than the name of Jesus Christ.

In Jewish tradition according to the law of Moses every male is to be circumcised on the 8th day where they are officially given their name.

At the creation God named every creature and creeping thing that would Rome the Earth. When he created mankind he named them Adam and Eve. Adam and Hebrew (‘adamah) “earth means man and Eve (Shiva)  in Hebrew Life.

The holy gospel tells us that Jesus’ name was given to him from the Annunciation in Luke’s 2nd chapter. when  “21 When eight days were completed for his circumcision,[a] he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” Luke 2:21

The name Jesus in Hebrew. Ya’shiva, means God Saves. Names in the Jewish tradition and other ancient cultures had great meaning and in history and often were given to define a person. The naming on the 8th day therefore had a profound significance and who and what a person would be. There are many reasons Why Names are Important in the Bible

  • A biblical name could record some aspects of a person’s birth.
  • Biblical names sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child.
  • Biblical names were sometimes used to secure the solidarity of family ties.
  • Biblical names could be used to communicate God’s message.

Let’s first look at GOD’s NAME

The word for God’s NAME is referred to as the Tetragrammaton, or “consisting of four letters”, is considered a sacred formula written as: YOTH-HE-VAU-HE, or IHVH, which incidentally creates a tetrapolar magnet.

For the people of Israel, in order not to blaspheme or profane the name of God Commonly substituted the HaShem or NAME in the four letters with Adonai (“My Lord”).

Dear faithful, Jesus is GOD incarnate, the uncreated and divine 2nd person of the Holy Trinity. Having been baptized into him, we bear his name and we can now boldly and without fear call upon GOD’s name,  Jesus without fear of profanity when it is acclaimed with a pure heart and out of a pious and Spirit filled faith.

Christians refer to the Lord as Jesus Christ. Jesus is WHO he is and Christ is WHAT he is. Christ, is the Anglicized form of the Greek word christos which means anointed or messiah. In Greek, xristos, the Name of the Lord is often like the sacred four letters of the Hebrew scriptures, is written in short as icxc or the first and last letters of IsouS XristoS or in Armenian ՅՍՔՍ and now reveals what was once hidden and forbidden form the mouths of man, the sacred 4 letters.

When we look at a priest’s hand when offering a blessing upon the faithful with the sign of the Cross, you will most often at least in the Orthodox Church, notice the priest’s right hand forming the four letters with the index finger making the Greek letter I, followed by the rest with the fourth finger and thumb crossing forming an X.

We as Christians are  are Born Again in baptism and we too are traditionally baptized on the 8th day from our birth and given a name but most importantly are given the name above every name and are privileged to now sealed with the chrism, named a most excellent name, that of CHRISTIAN!

Let’s look at the words of the prayer of baptism from the Renunciation:

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.  O Lord God, great and glorified by all creatures, this your servant has bowed his/ her head and has found refuge in your most powerful and holy name. Look with mercy, O Lord, upon this Child, and by calling of your name expel and keep away the thoughts, the words, and the deeds, and all the deceptions of the evil one who is accustomed to deceive men and make them perish. Fill this child with your heavenly grace and grant him/ her the joy to be named a Christian and make him/ her worthy of Baptism of the second birth of the holy Font. And by receiving your Holy Spirit let him/ her be body and member of your holy Church. And by leading a blameless Christian life in this world may he / she attain all the good things of the world to come with the help of your saints, glorifying your unchangeable dominion. Now and forever and ever. Amen.

In this world, it is easy to fall short of our High Calling easily distracted by The Temptations of the world. How many of us attempted buy a multitude of kings and ideologies which cross away from holiness? if we are continually prayerful maintain our discipline and commitment within a life in Christ and adhere to communion in the Holy things then  what a great privilege we have to be the example the witness and the disciples to call others back into that same Fellowship. These could be our friends, neighbors and colleagues but most assuredly our friends are family and especially our children.

It is unfortunate and sad fact that many I’ve grown ashamed of Jesus name. It hasn’t even been a point of contention not only make public sphere where official decorations and some government settings and schools prohibit the use of Jesus name. I will never forget following 9/11 as a new immigrant to the United States, that I attended a ecumenical so-called prayer service where the one offering the prayer never mentioned the name Jesus but use the term, almighty God Hot Pot. In whose name we pray without ever actually using a particular name. I remember at the time feeling that this was the beginning of the end of True Religion in America.

We, dear brothers and sisters, we are given the most excellent name of being called Christian. a name used for the first time in the town of Antioch among the first gentile church. We are given a calling and a mission to live the life in Christ, a most High Calling. Every Christian is incorporated into the body of Christ and is thereby part of the royal priesthood of believers (I Peter 2:5) and the Body of Christ.

As such, we have the privilege to remain in communion with the Lord, and to pray in his Holy Name, recognizing that as we say, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner we confess that His name is so powerful that it can cast out demons, move mountains and raise the Dead. Waking up each morning put the name of Jesus on your lips Crossing yourselves, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, seal and stamp the name of God upon your chest, believing what great power this has and what remarkable transformation it brings to you.

Let us end with prayer, with the words of our great patristic father, St. Gregory of Narek;  O my Jesus, you who have the Name above every name and the name at which every power in heaven and earth shall bow down, Receive us and make us worthy of bearing your name and being called Christian, and as sons of your Father who you revealed by your incarnation and fellowship with the children of man, O Savior  strengthen our resolve and commitment to you and join us in the Body of Believers where we seek our fellowship as coheirs with you and inscribe also our names in the book of life, Amen.

Published by

Fr. Shnork Souin

Priest of the Armenian Orthodox Church

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