Reflecting on Your Name and Your Dignity

icon-baptism of the lordIn her book, The Organic God, Margaret Feinberg tells a wonderful story that offers a glimpse of the teaching style of the late poet Maya Angelou at Wake Forest University.

One year Ms. Angelou spent the entire first class having the students introduce themselves and spelling their names. At the second and third meetings, Ms. Angelou went around the room again to review the students’ names. After the third go-around with the names, Ms. Angelou asked the class, “Why did I just spend nearly 20 percent of our very valuable class time together making sure you knew each other’s names?” After a deafening silence, she answered her own question: “Because your name is a sign of your dignity. And when you recognize someone’s name, you recognize them not just as a human but as a person. One of the greatest ways you bestow human dignity on someone is by calling them by name.”

In baptism, we are given a name and a dignity. We are given not just the name by which we will be addressed throughout life, but we are also given the name of Christ.

The name of “Christian” we claim in baptism is both a dignity and a responsibility. In the waters of baptism, we are reborn into the life of Christ. The Spirit of God re-creates us as sons and daughters of God – and places us in a relationship with Jesus and the Father that knows no boundaries and barriers. We become heirs of the promise of the Resurrection – and welcomed into the Church.

In baptism, we also take on the work that comes with the name “Christian.” We promise to live for others rather than ourselves. We resolve to seek the will of God in all things. We commit to walking as children of the Light – keeping the flame of faith alive in our hearts. We say “yes” to the call to grow in holiness each and every day!

Earlier this week Pope Francis spoke about the impact that baptism has on all of us. He reminded us that through baptism we are called to be missionaries who “proclaim the Gospel with gentleness and firmness, without arrogance or imposition – never proselytizing, but attracting to people to Christ, from a strong union with Him in prayer, adoration and charity, which is service to Jesus present in the least of our brothers and sisters.” He then reminded us that in imitation of Jesus, “we are called to make our life a joyful witness that illuminates the path that bring hope and love”

So, the baptism we received, however many years ago, was not a singular milestone or naming ceremony but an ongoing commitment that continues every day of our journey to the dwelling place of God. We must never forget that reality!

This past Monday, January 9th was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – and with that feast the Christmas Season came to a conclusion. As we move into the Ordinary Time of the church year, let us never forget the name of Christ we took on in the waters of our own baptism and recommit ourselves to the work of being disciples of Jesus. Reflecting his love, his peace, his mercy, and his light to all we encounter.

Question – This is a good week to reflect on the following question, “How am I keeping the ‘flame of faith alive in my heart’ and reflecting it in the way that I live?

January 11th, 2017 |