The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia
Fra Angelico (1400-1455). The Circumcision of Christ (c. 1450). Museo di San Marco, Florence.
Arvo Pärt. Da pacem, Domine. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, cond Paul Hiller.
Naming in myth and fairy story has always been associated with power and identity. Thus, Adam named the beasts; in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; let his name not be remembered; thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; and so on. The process by which we name things and by which we are named gives life its focus and meaning. Our spiritual journey is undertaken is to discover our real name, that is, our true identity. Only God knows our real name, who we really are. We are on the voyage to that discovery.
Naming is the clue to such identity and purpose as we have. It is also the source of inner power. As soon as the princess had guessed the true name of the dwarf, Rumpelstiltskin, his power over her was destroyed. It can, of course, be taken to mean too much. The fact that my name is Alan has very little to do with my identity and sense of purpose. When a total stranger calls me Alan, the name is virtually meaningless. When my wife calls me Alan, name and identity are very close. When God calls me by name, then and only then, is Alan my real name.
Belief in God entails fearful risks. For in him we find our true identity. By him we are known by name. As we begin to know who we are, so also the final and eternal imprint of the imago Dei takes hold upon us and fills us with a new spirit even as we are called by name. .
Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot imitate your majesty, power and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below. You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love. caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.
May the Lord, who has called out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.