A Rose By Any Other NameFr. Barnabas Powell
Poor Juliet struggles as she wrestles with the fact that her new-found love is for a hated Montague. Romeo listens as she says her famous line “‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet…”
Would it? Would a rose smell just as sweet with another name? Or does the name “rose” somehow capture and convey something essential to the nature of that flower? What is in a name after all.
Johnny Cash had a famous song about a Boy named Sue. That didn’t turn out so well for the young man. New moms and dads think hard about what they will name their new baby. We humans name buildings. We name roads. We name towns and even stars. Why are we so intent on “naming” people and things?
In our Scripture Lesson today, we continue exploring the fundamental and foundational “why” of we human creatures. And our Lesson gives us a hint as to why we name things.
Look at Genesis 2:4-19 and especially the last two verses: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”
The very fact that the first job God gave our father Adam in the Garden was to name animals is really a powerful insight into our “why.” We humans were made to understand, grasp, and them proclaim the essence of creation. We were made to participate in God’s creative work and to be so like Him we are able to see what something, or even someone, should be called.
Do you begin to see the power in that calling? You were made to be so free, so honest, so clear and discerning that you can know the essence of what you see around you. You were created with the ability and the calling to “name” things!
Through the history of our faith there have been many moments when people have been so changed by their encounter with God that even their name was affected. Abram becomes Abraham, Cephas is now Peter, Saul is renamed Paul, and on and on. So is the stunning power of a man being transformed by their encounter with God.
But this principle is at work in every aspect of our lives even today. The proper diagnosis, the ability to see clearly what exactly is wrong with a physical body by the doctor, is essential for that doctor to know how to apply the right medicines to cure the patent. The counselor struggles with her patient to help the patient “name” and pinpoint the emotional or mental challenges gripping the struggling person. Even our spiritual fathers in confession work with us to see beyond the symptoms of certain behaviors and mistakes to “name” the root cause of our spiritual illness. Our ability to “name” is part and parcel of our “why.” And the marring of our ability and calling to name by the delusion of sin is a great barrier to our own spiritual health.
Today, it is time for you to embrace the spiritual disciplines of Great Lent as the primary “medicine” to help you recapture and renew your calling to “name” that which troubles your life. You are called to clarity, peace, insight, and a life of discernment. You are meant to know yourself so well that you mature in your relationship with God and others AND you increasingly avoid the pitfalls of life that cloud your ability and calling to “name” yourself. What’s in a name? Potentially, everything. So, who are you? What’s your “name?”