Nothing provides more excitement and joy than finding something new. Discoveries are made every day — new plants, medicines, heavenly bodies. In order to talk and marvel about these new discoveries, we give them names.
One of the greatest of our common experiences is the birth of a child. When we hold a tiny baby in our arms, we are speechless, and we wonder what this child will grow up to be. In Baptism, the celebrant asks the parents, “What name do you give this child?” Water is poured over the child’s head and the child becomes a member of the community, its new family in faith. Then oil is massaged on the infant’s head to remind all of its mission, for it is anointed “to grow up” and to proclaim Christ to the world.
Today is the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and the last of the Old Testament prophets. At the time of John’s birth, his parents break tradition and give him the name “John,” indicating something different that amounts to a “new discovery” and challenge.
When we hear the Scriptures read at Mass, new ideas and feelings emerge from our minds and hearts. When we ponder the meaning of the bread and wine, we “discover” God’s name in the ordinary moments of the everyday. God’s name has a mission: to love.
Psalm 71:1–2, 3–4A, 5–6AB, 15AB and 17
1 Peter 1:8–12
Psalm 139:1B–3, 13–14AB, 14C–15
Luke 1:57–66, 80