Ex 3: 11-14 Hello, My Name is

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him,
“When I go to the children of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel:
I AM sent me to you.”
Yesterday, my family and I went to a small Baptist cemetery in Cades Cove, which was a booming town of a little over  four hundred people in the late 1800s. Today, no one lives in Cades Cove, but the descendants of those who once lived there are still buried in the cemetery.
Cemeteries are funny places. People in cemeteries are reduced to a tombstone, which contains their name, their birth date, their death date, and maybe a short quote. It is amazing how much a person can lose their identity on a tombstone. Unlike today, no one put pictures on tombstones back in the 1800s, so the image of the person is lost. No matter how much time that person spent on their hair, nails, or clothing, it doesn’t matter any more. They’re dust. Some of the names are even abbreviated, so whatever they were called while they were still in the world. A person can lose their identity on a tombstone.
But let’s focus on the temporary nature of names. Today, in the Gospel, God declares “I am Who Am.” I always struggled with this statement. It didn’t make any sense to me until I started thinking about names.
Let’s take my name, Sophie.  I will be Sophie until I die, and then it will be on some tombstone or crypt somewhere (hopefully somewhere famous, but that is just vanity), and then one day my great-grandchildren will be telling their children about their great-grandmother Sophie and by the time the story is over my great-great-grandchildren will have forgotten what my name is. Such is the nature of names.
But God tells us today “I am Who Am.” By the nature of the name “I am Who Am,” and the nature of God Himself, the name is not temporary. God does not die, even if his Son died on the cross. His divinity cannot die because he, God the Father, is not human.  So God’s name is eternal.
Before we were born, before the Earth was created, God Was. This is crazy to me because when I think of how excited people are to meet people who write amazing songs, or build amazing technology, it seems ironic that these same people are so not excited to go to church (if they do) to receive Christ in the Eucharist, or listen to his works in the Gospel, as the case may be. Think of it! Every time you receive Christ in the Eucharist, you’re receiving in the most intimate way possible He who made every cell in our bodies, every mitochondrion, and the whole world besides.
Scientists are still trying to figure out how much of the world even works, but God knows because He created it all. He knows the function of every single part of DNA, every protein, every cell, mysteries that it will take many years to uncover.
So what can you do about it?
Well, appreciate what God has made. If you’re thinking nasty things about a person, reflect that God created them too and instead of thinking or saying bad things, pray for them in a simple prayer, “Dear God, please draw ____ closer to Christ.” When you’re about to throw something recyclable into the garbage, think! Check the label and then recycle. Save plastic bags to recycle at special outlets around town. This might sound like too much work, but reflect that if you don’t, it’s going to sit decomposing very, very slowly in a landfill for thousands of years, releasing toxins into the life-giving dirt that God made, inhibiting the beauty of the earth that God created for us to keep care of.
So appreciate how beautifully things in the earth work. Think of others, and care for God’s creation.  And even though your name will one day be obsolete, God will remember every thought and action in Heaven, forever.


Fr. Alfonse (996 Posts)

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