As Bishop Thomas continues the diocesan initiative to reconnect (reconnecttoledo.org/september), we focus on living as holy disciples in this month of September (and always). This week, may we reflect upon this question: Who is an example of what it means to be a disciple? The best examples of holy disciples are Our Lady and the Saints. They can inspire us and teach us the ways in which holiness is possible. At the same time, we can still find holy disciples here on earth in our day to day lives, and we can learn what it means to be a holy disciple from family, friends, spiritual leaders, neighbors, and coworkers.
We continue looking into the Lord's Prayer and now delve into the first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name.” A few topics arise from this. Many ask the question, “What is God's name?” Moses asked God this question at the Burning Bush, and God's response is peculiar: “I am who I am,” or simply “I AM.” God's answer doesn't give a name as we think, but instead reveals who He is: God is being, is existence. To be God is to exist. God is without any qualification. Pope Benedict XVI points out that the mystery of God cannot be captured in images or in names that lips can utter.
Furthering the idea that names reveal someone, the name of the Word Incarnate, the Son of God is Jesus, a name which literally means “God saves.” This reminds us of St. Peter's preaching on Pentecost and the days following, found in the Acts of the Apostles, in which he says, that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven by which we are saved. St. Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend to the glory of God the Father. Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in His name, in His authority; there is power in the name of Jesus. Therefore, His name is to be reverenced and not taken in vain.
Pope Benedict XVI notes that a name establishes a relationship, and so he says, “God establishes a relationship between himself and us. He puts himself within the reach of our invocation. He enters into relationship with us and enables us to be in relationship with him. Yet this means that in some sense he hands himself over to our human world. He has made himself accessible and, therefore, vulnerable as well. He assumes the risk of relationship, of communion, with us.”
Relationships assume there will be risks; to love another person truly means to make oneself vulnerable. God makes Himself vulnerable before us, and perhaps this reality helps us understand the Second Commandment to not take the name of the Lord in vain. Pope Benedict XVI continues, “The name of God can now be misused and so God Himself can be sullied. The name of God can be co-opted for our purposes and so the image of God can also be distorted. The more He gives Himself into our hand, the more we can obscure His light; the closer He is, the more our misuse can disfigure Him.”
With all of this being said, when we make this petition, “hallowed be Thy name,” we are asking God to make holy His name in us. This is where everything needs to begin: not with others, not with groups, but with me. We are asking that God grant us the grace to live in such a way that we glorify and magnify God. Following Jesus' statement in St. Matthew's Gospel to be holy and perfect as our Father in heaven is holy and perfect, we ask in this petition that God our Father will help to live as He is: holy perfect.
We are all saints under construction, so let us continue to strive for holiness together. Have a great week!