Called by our Names | Rejoice and be GladApril 10, 2018
By Anne Armstrong, Religious Education Curriculum Coordinator
When our first granddaughter was born, she had no name for a week. It is Confucian tradition to wait to see the traits exhibited by the child and to find a combination of Chinese characters that match their temperament. These characters should be unique and then form the Chinese written name. Eventually, after much consideration and reflection by her parents, she was given the name Hanee, meaning refreshing wind from the west. In our culture, this means sea breeze. She is, indeed, a breezy little character, always ready to smile, help out, laugh, and befriend other children.
In this year’s Easter Sunday Gospel Reading we hear of Mary’s encounter with the Risen Lord. She does not recognise him until he calls her by her name. He draws her out of her deeply distressed emotional state and causes her to pay attention, to be surprised by joy, as CS Lewis once said. God calls each of us by name but sometimes we are too busy to listen. We are too distracted, too inattentive, too eager to check our Facebook, Instagram, Snap-chat. Too busy tallying how many likes or shares we got from our most recent post. In the end the only post that matters is the one from God. The one that asks us, by name, to follow him. Do we share that post?
Pope Francis, reflecting on this resurrection encounter between Mary and Jesus says “The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits,”
He noted that to participate in the celebration of Easter is to allow Christ to give us hope, triumphing over our fears and anything which paralyses us and keeps us from acting.
In his resurrection, Christ is inviting us to participate in his message of life. “Do we want to share in this message of life,” the Pope asked, “or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?”
“He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me:
The Jesus of Galilee, the resurrected Jesus, invites each of us by name to follow him.
God calls our young people by name and calls them as Fr Cantalamessa, papal preacher says “to rescue human love from the tragic drift in which it has ended up” and seek the “God who revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that gives itself.”
Fr Cantalamessa tells young people: “it is necessary to prepare yourselves to make a total gift of self to another in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, beginning by making a gift of your time, of your smile, (…) of your lives in the family, in the parish, and in volunteer work,” he says. (See more http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-francis-good-friday-homily-cantalamessa.html )
The Pope’s latest Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate”, released just this week, (Latin for “Rejoice and Be Glad”) tells us that to answer God’s call to holiness, Christians must care for the poor, the sick and the immigrant just as we care for the unborn. He reminds us that being called by God means taking the path to holiness in daily acts of charity, joy and a sense of humour. Pope Francis calls us to name people with their real name, as the Lord names them, and holds them, before categorizing them or defining ‘their situation or calling them names which are insulting and derogatory,
I encourage you to read the following articles about the latest Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis: “Gaudete et Exsultate”. You may like to read and reflect on the articles at these magazine websites. I guarantee you will be encouraged to develop a more loving relationship with the God who calls you by your name and has a plan for you. We will certainly be studying this with great interest in our RE classes next term and next semester and encouraging our students to be inspired to love God who calls them personally to live a life of charity, joy and humour.