I found myself drawn to a few particular lines in this Sunday’s readings.
In the first reading I was stopped in my tracks and very moved by the words ‘I have called you by your name’ (Is 45:4). That God should call me by my name is humbling. It is also a daily occurrence ‘from the rising to the setting of the sun’ (Is 45:6). How humbling to be called by name by a God who is everywhere.
In recent weeks, a song by Zambian / Irish singer Denise Chaila conveys the importance of one’s name. Denise spells out her name – c, h, a, i, l, a – for emphasis. Many of us with names that sound different or are hard to pronounce, can find ourselves being misnamed frequently. Some people don’t bother to get our names right. A name is so important. God doesn’t get our name wrong.
Having been called by name, in the second reading the words ‘you have been chosen’ (1 Thess 1:4) were similarly arresting. They call me to pause and reflect. I recall my joy being picked for a team – the honour and then the responsibility. What is it that God has chosen me to do and for what purpose?
In the gospel I have in recent times been drawn to Jesus’ wise response to the Pharisees. ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God’ (Matt 22:21). As I interpret it, Jesus is distinguishing between the religious and the secular in his time, the Church and the state in my time.
Most Christians work in the secular world in their daily jobs. My purpose, what I am chosen to do, is in this secular world too. Reconciling the religious and secular is challenging at times. I find the need to stop in my tracks, reflect, gaze to the rising or setting sun and listen for the familiar call of my name.