Today is “Name Tag Sunday” at Holy Cross. Wow! What is this again…? Now it is no longer just shaking my neighbor’s hand, it becomes knowing their names? Too much…! How can I know the names of all around here? That is impossible…! Yes, it is unprecedented and somewhat unheard of. I do hear you! And I understand the challenge this constitutes for all and every one of us. But a return to scripture shows us the importance of a name. In the passage about the Good Shepherd, Jesus says that the good shepherd knows his sheep by their name and the sheep know his voice. God knows each one of us by name. Each individual is cherished and has price in his eyes. In addition, in our ordinary social life, we always are surprised when one calls us by our name. The amazement that comes from that personal connection makes us exclaim: “How do you know me?” or “Oh! You know my name?” These questions bring a completely different atmosphere in the relationship between people. Names connect and create deep relationship.
This is what we are doing today; that we may not be just a group of people here only for some kind of gathering. “Name Tag Sunday” brings the flavor of belonging and mutual acknowledgment in our community. It deepens our understanding of what we are celebrating here and the impact of it in our lives: That we are one family, and as such, we know each other by our name and we cherish each other. Today as we turn towards one another, let us call one another by our names. It takes us from the realm of just greeting someone besides us but to enter in their life by knowing their name. This is the small step of faithfulness to small things to which Jesus makes reference in today’s gospel.
Imagine the joy you are going to bring in the heart of the person besides you when you call her by her name today. Just look at the smile you are putting on her/his face when you are smiling to her/him as you call him/her by her/his name. This seems to be as meaningless as action, but I assure you, nothing good is small or meaningless in the eyes of the Lord. The journey to great things starts with faithfulness to small signs of love such as this one we undertake today. Says the Lord, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones…” And the small one today is to get out of the sphere of Anonymous Christian or parishioner and to enter the experience of cherished and known by name brothers and sisters. Today we take a new step on our journey of belonging in our parish family.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family so that God who knows each one of us by our names may strengthen in our commitment to deeply knowing one another as we strive to courageously live the Gospel.