January 1: The Name Isho


Click play to listen the Evangalion (gospel reading) of the day.

In Gen 17:1, we find God’s command to Abram: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” This is the call to every human being. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were called to follow this path. Rather than being in the presence of God and walking blamelessly, they followed their own selfish ways by following the creature/snake/Satan and went away from the presence of God (Gen 3:8-10).


In calling Abram, God initiated a new epoch in the divine-human relationship. God promised to make him the father of a nation and gave him the new name, “Abraham.” Even though both the names have the same meaning, “the father is exalted,” the new name is explained as “the father of a host of nations.” God established a covenant with Abraham and his descendents. The sign of circumcision and the new name “Abraham” are indicative of his divine call, identity, and mission. In the Bible the giving of a name is indicative of a new identity and mission resulting from a divine call.


In times of utter dissolution (Is 42:18-25), God promises redemption and restoration (Is 43). In Isaiah, he introduces Himself as “The Holy One of Israel, your saviour” (43:3). This phrase in all the history of the biblical people has been an energising and hopeful reminder of the saving act of the Holy One in the Exodus from Egypt. The reason for God’s special concern was His love (43:4) – love for all.  God’s comforting and assuring words that the people heard in the darkness of Exile: “Fear not, for I am with you” (43:5) is the often-heard phrase of the assuring presence of God. The dynamic divine saving presence is also the focus in Isaiah. Further, in this passage (Is 43:1-13) we find Israel’s monotheistic understanding coming to the forefront. 


God is saviour and his mission is to save. He has freed us in Christ. So no more are we to be slaves, but free men and women. It is not the law that liberates, but faith that results from love (Gal 5:1-6). So throw away the yoke of law to be free in Christ. The only law that binds the new people of God is love.


What we heard in the Gospel reading of the day is impossible to believe. Mary believed, and said “Yes” in spite of the darkness of certain death from getting pregnant out of wedlock.  Joseph did not denounce her (1:19), nor did her father Joachim kill her as the law decreed – “Moses ordered such women to be stoned” (Jn 8:4). The faith of all of them was indeed so great that we may ask: How is it possible that they can believe and live according to that belief? Joseph accepted and obeyed what he heard in the dream. All these happenings are humanly impossible to believe. At the climax of these impossibilities, we find God Himself being born as a human – a total impossibility. Even the total ambience in which the divine child was born is not in any way impressive, it is subhuman. In all the total darkness and gloom; still they all believed and lived that belief. That is faith.


Today we celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus: Emmanuel = Amman-hu-El – “God with us”. This is what all the prophets and men of God of the Old Testament heard and that people of all times and generations like to hear: “I am with you.” Now the most unbelievable happening in history took place – “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14).


People killed Emmanuel because He was God made flesh (Mk 14:61-64) and it was against the religious belief of the time.  They could not believe the revelation of God in Jesus - God is with us – the ever presence of God with us. They did not want God to be with them because he is a consuming presence – they wanted to keep a distance from God. Since they could not believe what was revealed, they killed the Revealed One to safeguard their belief. People of all generations do the same. But the people of faith will walk in the light of God’s presence against all adversities and darkness of life: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” This is the call of God for all.



Credits: Father George Edayadiyil, CMI <george_edayadiyil 'at' hotmail 'dot' com>


Read more reflections