2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection by Deacon Tim Sullivan
What's in a name? In today’s Gospel passage by John we have an assortment of names applied to Jesus—“Lamb of God,” “Rabbi” (teacher), and “Messiah” (the Christ). Jesus is in the process of picking the Apostles and each of these names gives us a different view of Jesus depending on whom he was interacting with. None fully described who he was or his mission. When Jesus was starting out his public ministry, the prevailing view of the Messiah held by many Jews and, initially, the majority of the Apostles was that the Messiah was going to be a warrior king who would free Israel from the yoke of the Romans and restore Israel to its former glory and greatness. Jesus also had nicknames for the Apostles: Sons of Thunder, The Twin, The Zealot and others. In today’s passage, we find Jesus naming Simon as Cephas (translated as Peter), whether in Greek Cepha/Cephas of Latin Petra/Petras it is a play on words, Cepha and Petra refer to rock. While the knowledge of who Jesus was, was evolving, his knowledge of the Apostles was complete. When Jesus named Peter as “the Rock” he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that Peter would deny him, that he would be quick to speak before he thought (ref. the Transfiguration). Nonetheless, he also knew Peter’s heart. He knew that he would be the rock on which to build his church.
How does this apply to us? Jesus knows each of us, what is in our hearts. Each of us has our own knowledge of who Jesus is to us and how he interacts with us on a daily basis. These are unique interactions between Christ and us. Generally we don’t go around overtly stating what this relationship entails. We keep it in the depths of our being and how we manifest this relationship outwardly does surface in a quiet manner. Between Christmas and New Year, a Jimmy Johns delivery person came into the lobby with a delivery for one of the tenants. He looked familiar and I was trying to place him. He immediately recognized me and then it hit me that he had been one of our Friday morning guests at “Hospitality for the Homeless.” He said that he had gotten a job (Jimmy Johns) and a place to stay. He said that he had something for me. He was effusive in his praise of Saint Clement and the volunteers who staffed Friday morning and how much it had helped him. He reached into his pocket and took out a wad of bills which he had neatly put away. He said that he had been putting aside some of each weeks pay and wanted me to use it for purchasing the items we give out on Friday morning. I know what a sacrifice it had been to set this aside each week. He gave $ 97.00 to be used to purchase the goods and coffee for a Friday morning. He said that was his way of paying it forward. I was absolutely amazed at his huge heart.
Each of us has our own story. Each of us interacts with Christ (and his people) in various, unique ways. Taking all this into consideration I am wondering what name Christ would give me? As we start this new year of 2018 this might be a good question for all of us to answer. Additionally, what name would we give to Christ in our experience interacting with him?