Happy New Year! Here are some ideas concerning New Year’s Resolutions:
“My New Year’s resolution, says Jim Gaffigan: I will be less laz.”
“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people, Jay Leno said. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”
My New Year’s resolution is to be less prefect.
Also, remember: A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
My name is Fredrick Arthur Robinson. I was named, kind of, for my two grandfathers. My maternal grandfather was Ferdinand, but my parents thought Ferdinand was too old-fashioned a name, and since my grandfather went by Fred, they decided to call me Fredrick. My paternal grandfather was named Arthur.
We had absolutely no choice in the name we were given, to state the obvious. I remember that I went through a brief period in my adolescence when I didn't like my name very much. My friends called me Fred, but my family called me Fredrick, except when I was in trouble. Then I was Fredrick Arthur Robinson! At one point I thought it might be nice to change my “goes by” name to Rick, but that didn't last very long.
I thought there might be a David here this morning, so I looked up the meaning of the name David, and it means beloved. James means supplanter—it comes from the original Hebrew word Jacob. Lori means Laurel. Elizabeth: God is my oath. Abraham: Father of many. Stephen: Wreath or Crown
Everybody's name means something. My wife Linda's name means “pretty.” She certainly lives up to her name! My name means peaceful ruler. I'm not a ruler, but I hope as the leader of this parish that I do lead it in a peaceful way.
Names are very important in our Judeo Christian tradition. When Abram was led by God into a new land, God gave him a new name—Abraham. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses asked God what his name was. God said his name is I am that I am. God told Moses, "Tell the Hebrew people that I Am sent you."
From then on, God's name was considered to be so holy that it could never be uttered. Thus, when reading the Hebrew text of what we call our Old Testament aloud, when Jews come to the name for God they substitute a different word for him, rather than to say his name aloud. That tradition is followed in our own English text from the Old Testament today. If you look at the Old Testament reading in your bulletins, you will notice the word LORD is spelled in all capital letters. That means that in the Hebrew text God's name appears. That name we believe is pronounced Yahweh, but no one really knows for sure because it was never uttered aloud. Instead of printing Yahweh, the New Revised Standard Version substitutes the word LORD, and signifies the substitution by printing the word LORD in all capital letters.
Why did they treat the name of God in such a fashion? It was thought that to know a being's name was to have some control over the one named. Thus, when God gave Adam the job of naming all of the animals in creation, he was giving Adam power over the animals.
In trying to sell you something, the sales person wants to know your name right away, and he or she uses your name not once but probably several times. Using your name draws you in and so it does indeed give the salesperson a bit of control. At any rate, the Hebrew people believed that a name contained something of the essence of a person's being. They had an almost magical understanding of knowing someone's name. It would be totally inappropriate to believe that one had some kind of control over the being of Almighty God. Thus, his name was never said aloud.
Therefore, when a person underwent a change in being, it was significant that the person be given a new name. Abram became Abraham; Jacob became Israel; in the New Testament Saul became Paul. In the early Church, when a person was baptized that person was given a new name, signifying a change in the person’s being.
On the eighth day after Jesus's birth, he was circumcised and given the name Jesus. It means Savior. Not only is his name known, but it is also utterable, and he could be seen and touched. He is in the weakness of human flesh. Through Jesus, Almighty God indeed has become familiar to those who know him.
The best way to know God is to know Jesus. In fact, since Jesus entered this world he is the only way to the Father. As his name reveals, Jesus is the Savior and it is only through him that humanity can be saved. St. Luke proclaims, "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." St. Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians, elaborates: "God has highly exalted Jesus 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."
In knowing the name Jesus, however, we certainly do not have any power or control over him. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When we utter the name Jesus we proclaim that he has power over us, that he is our Lord and Savior, that it is he through whom we dare approach God as Father.
And yet, we realize that there is power in his name, just as the apostles realized in the New Testament, and so we pray in his name, we heal in his name, we preach in his name.
One resolution we should all make this day is to be more thankful for the grace given us through Jesus, our Savior and Lord.