Commentary on the Gospel of

Joan Blandin Howard - Creighton University's - retired


In today’s reading, Luke speaks of Jesus’ going off alone, praying, returning and calling, naming his twelve disciples.  Men who would become his followers and intimate friends. He calls them by name – some by their given names, others by new names. Names specifically chosen. I Wonder why Jesus called some by new names?

What’s in a name?

Consider all the names you have been called – name given at birth. What is the significance of that name?  Was I named after a relative, a saint, a dear friend?  Consider nicknames given by family or childhood pals? Titles accorded: Ms, Mrs. Nurse, Doctor, President, Reverend etc.  Each name speaks of a special, unique relationship, of belonging.  Belonging to a specific community: family, friends, profession, parish or neighborhood and many others.

A name reveals something of what someone thinks of me, feels for me, of our relationship.  The name my grandmother calls me, my father or mother calls me, my pals call me are special and unique to each relationship.  Names can indicate the quality, depth and intimacy of a relationship.  Names like Chippy, Jolly, Sweetness, Sisfriend, BFF, Darling – names of endearment.  What are some of the endearing names I have been called?   What names have I especially liked, ones I especially disliked. (I remember being called “Fatty”. Not so endearing.) Prayerfully whispering each name, I am drawn back into that relationship: loving, comfortable, challenging, encouraging, even belittling.  I notice my body language. I relax, smile, even giggle.  I tense up.  I feel uptight or relaxed and comfortable. Maybe I feel tears welling up. Tears of joy or sadness.

In the intimacy of my relationship with my partner what endearing name am I called? What is the most loving name I have?  In the intimacy of my relationship with God, what is my God-given name?  What is my unique name for God?   Maybe our names change from encounter to encounter.  Maybe not.

In prayer, I sit alone in the stillness of silence and listen with my heart, with my entire body, noticing the interior nudges that alert me to God’s approach, to God’s presence. My name? I will know it.  Maybe I have heard/noticed/felt it before, maybe now for the first time, maybe it will take a bit of noticing in the solitude of prayer before I hear it.  I listen. I notice.

We are privy to a glimpse into the relationship between Jesus and God.  God names Jesus, “My Son”.  Not just “Son”, but “My Son”. Feel the deepness between the two names. Jesus calls his Father, “Abba”, Daddy. Feel the mutual intimacy. As I sit in contemplation of what I can imagine these names reveal of their relationship, I feel a deep sense of joy, unconditional presences and unfathomable love and wholeness.  My words are not descriptively adequate.

Alone, in silent solitude I listen for my own God-given name. Initially, I experience a slight interior feeling, movement, rather than hearing or certainty. Words don’t come readily.

Lord, what is my name today?  What is my name that reflects our intimacy right now?
     Lord, today, in intimacy I call you….


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