Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013: What shall we call Him?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis, Rochester, on Christmas Eve (after sunset).

Unto us a child is born,

but what shall we call the baby?

We think of the couple looking lovingly

at their newborn daughter,

all asleep and pink in her crib,

 tired out by her struggle to come into the world,

 now content with a tummy full of milk

– a beautiful sight.

Then we wonder

at what must be going through their minds

when they call this little scrap of joy,

Maud Hildebrand.

There are some dreadful baby names out there.

Most, however, are a matter of taste!

But what do we call the baby lying in the manger,

swaddled tightly,

surrounded by straw, oxen,

an anxious Joseph

and an exhausted Mary?

What is His name?


Should we call Him Joseph?

The name “Joseph” means “God shall increase.”

We read in Isaiah that

“Of the increase of his government and peace

there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David,

and upon his kingdom,

to order it, and to establish it

with judgment and with justice

from henceforth even for ever.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

 But His name is not Joseph.

There may be a tradition

of naming the baby after his father,

but Joseph knows that he

is not the father of this child.

This Child may have the lineage of David,

and have the title of King,

but He has not come here on Earth to be King.

St Joseph is a sign that points to this baby,

but Joseph is not the baby’s name.


Should we call Him Mary?

Some good Catholic families do name their boys after Our Lady.

Mary is the Greek form of Miriam

which is Egyptian and not Hebrew in origin.

It means “beloved”.

What could be better said of this baby?

But then every baby should be beloved of someone.

Every little one deserves to be called Mary

regardless of sex.

Too many are not beloved,

and the little baby in the manger knows that.

It is His presence

that will ensure that every single baby who ever was

 will have love shown to them

by the greatest Being in existence.

If not a sparrow falls without His knowledge,

then no child of man

will be forgotten by His love.

The King of Heaven cares for all His children.

However, Mary,

 Our Lady,

 only gets her queenship

through this baby in the manger.

 Our Lady is a sign that points to the baby,

but Mary is not the baby's name.


Should we call Him John?

“John” means “God gives”

and God has indeed given this baby to us.

God has also given us this child’s cousin,

St John Baptist,

at most 9 months earlier.

He will seek out God in the wilderness

and call people to repentance.

 He will give them the baptism of water

for the remission of their sins;

he will give them the new start that they need.

However, he cannot baptise them with the Holy Spirit

and thus give them regeneration,

the second birth necessary for every Christian Soul

on its route back to God.

His little cousin asleep in the hay

will do exactly this

and open the pathway for souls to be saved.

John cannot.

He will call out for the paths

to be made straight for this baby;

he will decrease so that this baby will increase.

St John is a sign that points to the baby,

but John is not the baby's name.


So what shall we call this baby?

You will say, “Jesus!

It has to be Jesus!

How could it be anything else?”

Yet Isaiah would have Him called

Immanuel –God with us.

Jeremiah would have him called

Adonai Tsideknu 

 the Lord Our Righteousness.

The average Jew watching this miracle

would call the baby

Yeshua Ben Yosef

– Joshua, Son of Joseph.

Joshua, which is the same as Jesus,

means “God saves”.

If we look at this baby sleeping in the manger,

all of these names apply.

This baby will grow up

to be our righteousness

for only in Him will we become truly righteous.

This baby is the Incarnate God,

born to be with us,

born to reconcile Man to God.

This baby is the man

who will be crucified for us

and thus save us from Death itself.


So here He is.

Son of Mary, Son of God.

What do you think is the baby's name?

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