Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Genesis 32:23-33

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14th Week in Ordinary Time

What is your name? (Genesis 32:28)

Your name defines you in a significant way. It identifies the family into which you were born. It often has a particular meaning or honors a particular ancestor. Add-ons like “Junior” and “Mrs./Miss/Ms.” further tell who you are. And when you fall in love, your beloved may also have a special name for your ears alone.

When Jacob realizes that he has been wrestling with an angel, he begs for a blessing before his heavenly visitor departs. That blessing is expressed as a new name. “Jacob” (one who trips up) is the one who grasped his twin brother’s heel as they were being born; ever since, he’s been using his devious wits to trick people into giving him what he regards as his due. But now he has a new identity: “Israel,” or “one who strives—or sticks—with God.” From this time on, Israel is most true to himself when he relies on God and not on his own clever plans. That’s quite an identity change!

When we were plunged into the waters of baptism, each of us was also made into a new creation and given a new identity and name: “Christian,” a child of God who shares in the life of the Trinity. At our confirmation, we may have taken additional names in honor of saints we hope to imitate. Added to this, we also have a special God-given name, a name that describes how our Father sees us and the calling he has placed on our lives. The Spirit says, “To the victor I shall give … a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

Spend some time today basking in God’s love for you. Ask him to give you just a glimpse of how valuable and precious you are to him. Let him whisper to you the name he has chosen to express who you truly are. Then, every time you face a new choice in your life, take a small but decisive step in the direction of that God-given identity.

“Father, thank you for naming me your beloved. Give me the grace to grow into the way you see me.”

Psalm 17:1-3, 6-8, 15
Matthew 9:32-38

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