Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

“Joannes est nomen eius.” This is the official motto of the island of Puerto Rico. It just means “John is his name” in Latin. The capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan, which is Spanish for St. John. Christopher Columbus originally named the whole island “San Juan Bautista,” or “St. John the Baptist,” and he named the capital city “Puerto Rico,” or “Rich Port.” Over the centuries, the people gradually swapped the names. “Puerto Rico” now refers to the island, and “San Juan” refers to the capital city.

Every name has a history. That history is incorporated into the identity of the one who bears the name. In today’s gospel, we hear the conclusion of the story of the nativity of St. John the Baptist, which is the festivity we celebrate today, and we hear how John got his name, even though no one in his family had it.

Our English name “John” comes from a Hebrew name “Yochanon” which means “Yahweh is gracious.” If you go back and read the story, you will see how God was gracious to St. John the Baptist’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Do you remember what the name Jesus means? It comes from a Hebrew name, Yeshua, which means “Savior.”

I encourage you, friend, to consider three names and three questions today.

  1. John: How is God gracious to you?
  2. Jesus: How is God your savior?
  3. Your own name: How do you respond to God’s grace and salvation?
June 24th, 2015