The WORD in Other Words by Fr Jay de Leon SVD (South Africa) for Wednesday 14th Week in Ordinary Time
In the Tsonga tribe, parents carefully choose their child’s name. Matimba (strength), Ntshembo (hopeful), and Tsakani (be happy) are some names parents choose in the hope that their children will exemplify live these qualities. Often for the same reason, most Christian parents name their children after a revered Saint.
During Jesus’ time, some Apostles were named from Old Testament names during the time of the Patriarchs: Simon and Judas were the names of sons of Jacob (Gen 29:33; Gen 35:23); James was also Jacob (Gen 25:26); Matthew was also known as Levi, name of another son of Jacob (Gen 35:23).
The apostles became faithful followers of God as representations of the Patriarchs and of the tribes of Israel, except Judas Iscariot. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus made his namesake, Jude Thaddeus, a “forgotten apostle.” (Jude is the English form of Judas/Judah, meaning ‘praise’). Tradition has it that only desperate people ask for Saint Jude’s intercession least they invoke the name of the betrayer of Jesus. Thus, he is popularly known as the “Patron of Desperate Cases.”
No matter how parents desire for their children to be strong, hopeful, and happy, it is up to the children to be true to their names. No matter how God calls us to be his children and how he desires for all of us to be with him for all eternity (1 Tim 2:4), it is up to us to accept or reject his invitation. Free will is part and parcel of his love. His grace is constant but our cooperation with his grace is a choice.
May we be true to our name as Christians and to our identity as children of the Father.
– Fr. Jay de Leon, SVD, (Tzaneen Diocese, South Africa)