Sometimes we might amuse ourselves by asking how we would feel if we were called by another name. After all, names seem to indicate, accurately or not, a trait. Each name sends out a unique connotation, a different vibration.
The first reading next Sunday is one of the most important passages in the entire Bible. Anyone who has seen a depiction of Moses or the Exodus (the Israelites’ escape from Egypt) probably knows the story of the burning bush.
Moses, seeing this bush which, though on fire, is not consumed., decides to investigate this puzzle. As he comes nearer, he hears his name called twice. “Moses! Moses!” Then God tells him to remove his shoes because he is on sacred ground. He is in a place where God is revealed in an overt, powerful way.
Of all the things God says to Moses, God’s revelation of the divine name has shaped all of Jewish and Christian tradition. “I am who am” says God. “This is what you shall tell the Israelites. I AM sent me to you.”
So powerful and so elusive is the divine name that the Jewish people will not even speak it. Indeed, Catholics have been asked not to use that name, written as YHWH, in our hymns, out of respect for Jewish sentiments.
So powerful is the name of God…what can that name mean for us?
God is Being Itself, as some have put it. God is the source and ground of all existence. God is beyond anything, any image, or idea we can construe. God is a mystery, a mysterious dimension of all reality but not limited by any reality. And, in all of this, God is absolute love.
If God’s name makes our head spin, then we are starting to get the point.
What image do you use most frequently to think about God?
Spend a few minutes trying to sense the awe, majesty, and mystery of God. Reflect on Moses’ encounter with God and look for any moments you might have had like this.
I have loved you late in life, O Beauty, ever ancient and ever new, I have loved you late in life. You were right inside of me, and I was outside looking all around for you…And I was not with you. Those things which were nothing kept me far from you. You called, you cried, and you broke my deafness apart. You shone forth, you enlightened, and you shattered my blindness.
(St. Augustine, The Confessions)