Catholic Teaching

God's Name

Did you ever have an identity crisis when you were young? I know I had one. It was painful trying to figure who I was for myself and to the rest of the world. It seemed every time I had a chance to reflect on myself, I found myself thinking, “Gee, maybe I am God, or just some weirdo lost in this world.”

Things have changed now. I now know who God is, and it is certainly not me! That’s just a stage in my life when I had to break from “the world revolves around me” complex to “Speak Lord, for your servant listens”. It was I who encountered Greatness, and He (NOT IT) told me who I was and continuously tells me who I will become in His Light – this Light being His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Now if we had to struggle with some kind of identity crisis, imagine God trying to figure out Himself? I can see it now: Moses asks God who He really is, and God replies, “Gee Moses, I don’t really know who I am, come back to Me tomorrow and maybe I’ll get fired up and tell you.” That would be a scary thought -- to imagine God having a problem with knowing Himself.

Not to make jokes about God, but I have no choice but to speak about this from the heart – Where are our church leaders going when they call God a name other then the very name He has given to us?

Yesterday, I attended an event that truly turned my stomach inside out, when a teacher mentioned out loud to a bunch of semi-disciplined Catholics that we can truly call God “Mother”. Now I pray for these leaders and teachers, that they will not be damaged by this new type of teaching or spirituality, because it truly is contrary to what God has revealed to us. I made it clear that I did not believe this; then I stood up and walked out. Those who saw me knew full well what I believe my Lord to be, and whether I knew or didn’t know, He will still identify Himself the same way. It’s like a stranger pointing to your best friend, saying, “That’s not John, that’s Thomas.” Gee, you mean to tell me that the friend I knew ever since we were small children is not who he says he is? You would be truly upset with this stranger because he had not shared the same experiences you had with your best friend.

What did God reveal to us? Youth ministers, young adult leaders and parents should listen, study and pray carefully when confronted by the real Name of God. In only two powerful places God has revealed His true identity by name -- in Exodus and Matthew. In the Book of Exodus, Moses said to God, “Look, if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’ What am I to tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am He who is.” (Ex 3:13-15) Later, God tells Moses, “This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come. (Ex 3:15). Hence Catholics till this day invoke in song, praise and adoration the Name of God “I am he who is” as “Yahweh.” We praise and honor this name for 2,000 years and to the very present we still honor this name. Here is a hint: If you pay attention during Mass, the Priest and People of God praise God with a powerful “Alleluia,” which means “Praise be to I AM”.

But it does not stop here. The second time God is directly named it is by His beloved Son, who is none other than God. . It was when Jesus taught all His brothers and sisters to pray to “Abba” (Matt 6:7-10). In this word, the Jewish man of that time recognized very well who Jesus called God, and that was “Father”. The Christian today truly understands it as Father and believes it to be our Father in Heaven. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus call God anything else; He neither says that God is exactly an object, a thing, a metal or an animal, but what God truly is for Jesus and for all mankind -- PAPA! Jesus knows His Dad and is directing His Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to truly praise God as Father.

Now, we believe our Master is the way, the truth and the life, as He has said this to His brothers, the Apostles. And as they wrote carefully, believing in His words, “Abba” would declare who God really is to mankind. Jesus’ own name proves it. Jesus in the Hebrew is “Yeshua”, which comes directly from the Hebrew word “Yehoshua” meaning “Yahweh Saves”. Truly, the name “Jesus” specifically identifies Him as God, and not a god as Jehovah’s Witness’ believe Jesus to be, but as Catholic Christians believe – that Jesus is God – The Second Person of the Trinity. As Son, it automatically points to God as His Father, both supernaturally and naturally.

Can it be true that God has an identity problem? I don’t think so! This does not make me a bad person, a closed-minded person, nor does it make me a better man knowing that God is identified as masculine. It just helps me to identify God as Jesus knows Him to be. Now that’s what I call “Knowing yourself!”

So don’t get caught in the “Poor God Doesn’t Know Himself” trap! If you believe and have grown in a personal relationship with Jesus, then proclaim it in your prayer life, in your ordinary life, in your home, in your family life, in your school and workplace, on the streets, in season and out of season, and till the day you die – never stop calling God what Jesus called Him. He knows that God is truly Father, and so should we.

Juan Rodriquez

Juan Rodriquez is our guest writer who lives in New York and is a youth leader in the inner city.

 

 

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