Readings for Today
What’s in a name? I suspect if I rattled off a few slogans and jingles, it would not take too long to identify the name of the company that uses it. The first question asked of new parents is what the name of the new child is. When a new sports team is created, there is much thought given to the name of the team. When thinking of the name of a website, great care is given to come up with something that is easy to remember.
I remember a former student who was given a nickname because of a character he played in a drama. At first, he really enjoyed the new nickname, and I suspect more, the attention he got from his friends. But over time, he enjoyed the nickname less and less, until the one day in class he told his friends that he really did not like it at all. He did not want his identity reduced to this silly nickname.
And so just what is the power of a name? Usually parents give careful thought to the name of their child. I remember the difficulty very good friends of mine had in coming up with a name if their first child was a boy. (Fortunately they had a girl, and the name she has was the name of the Sister of Mercy who introduced them.) At a baptism, the first question asked of the parents concerns the name of the child.
Today in the first reading we encounter Peter and John who want to make it clear that all they are doing is not in their own name, but is rather, in the name of Jesus. Peter understood the power of a name. First, because Jesus changed his name from Cephus to Peter, based upon Peter’s confession of faith and his role in the Church. Second, and more importantly, it is because Peter has come to believe, by God’s grace, the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. It is not that Peter is the most important, but rather that Peter, by allowing Jesus to act through him, can invoke the name of Jesus through which miracles occur.