What’s in a name – Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist – Luke 1: 57-66. 80

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This quote is a frequently referenced part of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her rival’s house of Montague, that is, that he is named “Montague.” The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

But that argument would not work for God, for He chose names for His anointed ones or changed their names, because He wanted to indicate a new phase in their lives. Abram, was named Abraham, Jacob was renamed Israel and Simon was called Peter. But God not only changed names, He also gave names. His only begotten Son was to be called ‘Emmanuel’, meaning ‘God is with us’.

Before the angel of God conveyed to Mary the message of the birth of Jesus and His name, He had made another ‘annunciation’, perhaps a less spoken one. The Annunciation so synonymous with Mary in the New Testament, was preceded by the one made to Zechariah in the temple.

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