Back when I was in college, I wrote an essay on the name of God for my philosophy class, using Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles as my main source. “What’s in a name?” I asked, quoting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
A name is a very powerful thing to have. According to Aquinas, the name of a thing says something about the thing itself. In a series of videos analyzing Harry Potter through the lens of the Catholic Faith, Fr. Nicholas Marie Monco says “a name points to the reality of the thing.” A name reveals something about the thing. As a writer, I pay attention to names. The name of God is especially important because his true name reveals that He is being itself. “I AM.” Through Jesus, God reveals Himself fully to us as an invitation for a personal relationship with Him. Knowing someone’s name gives us a degree of intimacy with them.
This ties into the first two commandments: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them...You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.For the Lord will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.”
We may not bow down before statues of cows, but we have made idols out of things like politics and an “us vs them” mentality. We can make idols out of ideologies, the opinions and approval of others, even having the latest Apple products. When anything takes precedence over the will of God, it becomes our idol.
The prayer of the Our Father reminds us to turn back to the Lord. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...” To be hallowed means to be holy. When we say “hallowed be thy name,” we are giving reverence to God’s name. We are called to a greater intimacy with Him. God is asking us to call Him “Father” and to invoke His name in our prayers. Let us all draw closer to Jesus, our Lord and our God.
Reflect: Is there anything in your life that you treat as your “idol”? What are the idols in your life? How is your personal relationship with God?
Act: Pray an Our Father and ask God to help you get closer to Him.