Thursday, July 16, 2015
The power of God's Name: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, July 16th, 2015
(Listen to this homily here).
This morning we heard one of the most mysterious passages in all of Scripture—the revelation of God’s name: “I am who am.” This name gets at God’s essence—that God is pure being, that God has existed for all time with no beginning or end.
This name is mysterious because the Hebrew grammar only made sense when the one saying the name was the One whose name it was. The Jewish people believed that uttering this name was blasphemous and worthy of capital punishment. Thus they had a profound respect for the name of God. It was never spoken aloud, save for once a year by the high priest at the feast of Atonement. Even in writing this name was substituted with (the English equivalent) LORD in capital letters.
God’s name has power. Today we honor Mary under the title Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The origins of the Carmelite religious order come from this mountain in Galilee, the place where the prophet Elijah battled the priests of Baal. In 1 Kings 18 these men had a contest. Both set up an altar and a sacrificial victim, but were not to light it. The priests of Baal called upon their god to consume the sacrifice, but to no avail. Then Elijah, having covered the sacrifice with water to prove a point, called on God’s name—and the offering was consumed by fire. The crowd who watched shouted, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God!”
Yet how often do the crowds today disrespect, denigrate or use God’s name in vain? Perhaps this is a vice in your life that needs to be cut out! I often tell kids that it is a million times better to use the F word than God’s name in vain. (I also tell them they shouldn’t spew out profanities either!)
May we respect the awesome name of God today. It has power and should be revered!