Thought for the week
What’s In a Name?
Children today have none of the foreboding my generation had when we plodded our way over a country lane to school. While not overlooking the many fine teachers of 1950s Ireland, one tends to remember those – lay and religious – who, like Lady Macbeth showed little of ‘the milk of human kindness.’ A soulless feature of the teacher’s attitude was the way we were addressed – rarely by a first name; instead it was: ‘Walsh, pay attention! O’Shea, sit up straight! King, stop looking out of the window!’ We hated it.
Hold that thought and turn your attention now to the poetic lines of Isaiah who, in order to affirm a despondent Israelite people, says: ‘you will be called by a new name … no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’ or ‘Abandoned’ , but you shall be called ‘My Delight.’ This is the language of love. Ambrosia! And it is the voice of God who holds us all in the palm of his (her) hand.
Our name and the way it is uttered are sacred to us. And the language of love is the only idiom God knows. You don’t believe me? Alright check out 1John 4:8. The people were asking St John: ‘what’s God like? Man? Woman? What’s God?’
His answer: ‘Whoever loves knows God, because God is love.’
And as for names: well, T.S. Eliot knew that even cats meditate on the importance of what they are called:
When you notice a cat in profound meditation
The reason, I tell you, is always the same.
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name.