He speaks our name

Daily Reading for April 16

The faith in Jesus this prayer [the Collect for Easter 4] expresses is a quality of faith we possessed as a child, wish we possessed now, and, in rare moments of spiritual vision, do possess. When in those moments we do achieve this level of faith in our Lord, we allow him to be our good shepherd. This is what Jesus wishes to be, what he always has been, and what he waits in unrelenting love and patience for us to recognize. This simplicity and sureness of faith in him as God in human flesh is what he waits for his church to recapture and rejoice in again. Whenever and wherever the church does recapture this conviction, it finds that our Lord becomes again its good shepherd. It then becomes possible for him to lead us where he wishes us to go, and to give us grace to follow him into places we sometimes do not wish to go or have the will to go.

This prayer reminds us of something else. It tells us that when we hear the voice of the good shepherd, what we hear is the most powerful of all sounds in our ears—our own name. All our lives we hear our name as we hear nothing else. We hear it called in every conceivable tone and setting, and for reasons and purposes too numerous to mention. Our name has been spoken by voices we will never forget and by voices we wish we could forget and cannot. Our name has been called lovingly, sternly, harshly, gently, angrily, seductively. We have heard it whispered passionately and shouted in exasperation.

To know that our name is on the lips of our Lord is to possess the richest intimacy with him. To know that he speaks our name gives us our ultimate sense of who we truly are. When we know truly who we are we can respond to his invitation to live fully and courageously. As this prayer calls us to do, we become capable of following where he leads.

From Prayers for the Breaking of Bread: Meditations on the Collects of the Church Year by Herbert O’Driscoll (Cowley Publications, 1991).

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