Investiture Ceremonies 2019
“And you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord would give”. (Isaiah 62:2)
In one of William Shakespeare’s eminent works, Romeo and Juliet, the young lady Juliet was quoted as saying:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Right was she; besides, wrong was she too. For Juliet, a name should not mar the true identity of any reality. It should rather lead to new heights. However, there is something in a name. Before her, the Prophet Isaiah had already laid some emphasis on the importance of a name, a new name, which corresponds with a new identity: “and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord would give”. (Isaiah 62:2).
What is in a name? What is in a title? Does it make a difference to be a knight? Is there a difference between a knight and a non-knight?
There is always something very unique about a name. It relates to our identity, our personality. Our name can forge for us a personality; our personality, our fundamental nature, can also give us a name. A name can give shape to our life story. A name can link us to a family lineage, and raise us up, and can also bring us down, depending on the image of that lineage. On the other hand, we can discover our name through the identification of our personality. So, there is a lot in a name.
It is not just fashion; it is not just a word, a title, or an expression. It is not a cocoon within which we can hide. On the contrary, our name points at us, reveals us, exposes us.
A new name signifies new life. At our birth, our parents give us a name. At Baptism, when we enter into a new life with God, as God’s children, we obtain a baptismal name. The same happens at our Confirmation. For many of us, our names come with a story, existential and real. We see a lot of this in the Holy Bible. In the Scriptures, we have many instances of new names associated with new lives, new missions, new beginnings, new identities.
We have the examples of Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter/Cephas, Saul/Paul.
In the Book of Revelation 2:17; 3:12, we see what Jesus promised to all who believe in Him, who are faithful to his words: “I will give him a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”
The First Reading today tells us that we shall be called by a new name which the Lord himself will give. It is a divine intervention; it is God himself who will give meaning. He wants us to be called by his name, and to be associated with him.
Let’s go back to the background of the text. This is Chapter 62 of the Prophet Isaiah (Trito Isaiah – Third Isaiah). This text forms part of the collection of oracles or pronouncements during the time of reconstruction and consolidation of the People of God, immediately after the return from Babylon).
We all know much about the prophecy of Isaiah, a great prophet whose mission in Israel lasted for almost 60 years, and spanned across the reign of four kings. It was his duty to call the People of God to repentance from presumption and
arrogance. They had forgotten the good deeds of the God who saved them; they abandoned the origins of their faith. There had been serious religious decadence, and that was after the return from exile; he wanted them to be aware of their new
identity and expectations.
When Isaiah therefore said, “for Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet”, he revealed the determination of God not to give up on his people. He showed his own determination to accomplish his duty as a prophet in spite of the obstinacy of the people. He then promised that if they renewed their spiritual lives, nations would see their righteousness once again, and their vindication; and they would be called by a new name.
For God, an effective spiritual solution for his People in crisis, after their awareness and repentance, is the gift of a new name, a new identity, a new path and a new mentality. But first, they must put off their obstinacy, their pride and their
offence. They must be ready for a radical change: the new name goes with a new personality.
For the chosen people, there was a price to pay before receiving a new name; it was not supposed to be simple and easy. They had to accept their shame; they had to deal with the consequences of their offences; they had to express humility and honesty. An important aspect of their change was awareness of error and the desire for a new beginning. The prophet was quick to point it out. That was the only way to find authentic healing; that was the real path to inner peace. For every human person, it is only when we accept our fragility, our humanness that we can receive the merciful Lord; then can we receive our new identity. Mercy, renewal and newness go together.
A new name marks the end of an epoch and is an indicator of a real change which may have started already. When God changes a name, it indicates that something new has happened or is already happening to the individual — a new
relationship is forged, a new character quality is created, or a new phase of life begins. We pray for this renewal amongst all the baptised.