Friday, July 19, 2013

Keep God's name holy: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, July 18th, 2013

           More ink has probably been spilled on our first reading from Exodus 3 than any other text in the Bible.  In it, God reveals His name to Moses: “I am who am.”  In Hebrew, this phrase is abbreviated by YHWH and this name has been studied so much it has been dubbed the Tetragammeton—four letters. 
            The name of God was so sacred in Jewish life that it was replaced in the Scriptures by titles like el shaddai or adonai.  This was also designated in the Greek and Latin translations and can be seen in our English Old Testaments whenever you see the word LORD in capital letters.  Because of the unusual structure of this name, it was only spoken aloud once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement because uttering this name would be claiming to be God.  If a Jew spoke this name he was punished with death.
            We could learn a lot from the Jews in respecting God’s name.  Using God or Jesus Christ as a filler, response or for any other reason but prayer is common in our society.  In the course of the day we probably hear it in public, on TV or in music, or perhaps say this several times.  We are indeed to “invoke his name” as it contains power, but never to use it idly or otherwise.  And when we hear someone else take God’s name in vain we should quietly say a prayer to give His name the honor that was neglected.
            God’s name is powerful.  Through it we pray, bless and receive the sacraments.  We must strive to keep His name holy in our lives and witness to this in a world which often does not.

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