Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”
Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As our children’s birth drew near, we brainstormed what we might call them. The list ranged from very pious, to very contemporary, to very selfish. (As a Cubs fan, I still maintain Ron Santo Skarr has a nice ring to it, boy or girl.)
It’s a rather humbling experience, praying over what name you might give the new life entrusted to you.
After all, in scripture, God is the one who names (cf. the Book of Genesis). Naming something is to give it agency, purpose, hope.
Ignatius encourages us to prayerfully review with God our day’s moments. In the quiet or busyness of our hearts, we can name the substance of our experience. All the joys, all the sorrows. The times we were impatient, the times we were generous. Ignatius found God in the very fabric of human existence which, just like welcoming new life, is a miraculous experience.
—Jordan Skarr works with the Jesuits at the Midwest province office in Chicago, assisting with programming for pastoral ministries.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, O Lord our God!