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The Message of Christmas: What Is In a Name?
Rebecca Johnasen
December 24, 2013
This article was originally published at

It is Christmas. People have been planning, shopping and preparing for the most wonderful time of the year. The children are excited; the parents are stressed out or happily enjoying the preparations. People are also depressed, angry or lonely as the holidays bring flashbacks of painful memories. Whatever the situation may be among the joyful and the sorrowful, it is important to keep our focus on the main event of this season.

Traditions are special: the Nativity, Christmas tree, lights, decorations, Santa Clause or St. Nicholas, gift giving and gatherings with family and friends. It is a special time. Even though it is a busy time, we should focus on making more time for God.

We are ending the holy season of Advent, the time of preparation for Jesus' coming. Advent is Latin for "coming". It is a time for us to slow down and reflect on Jesus' birth, our blessings, how we can make room for Him in the inn of our hearts and what God wants from us.

It is not only a time to love, but it is also a time to forgive and be forgiven, to let the Lord heal our wounds from the past, to fill a void that we may have in our hearts, like after a loss of a loved one.

We should not worry about praying well; we need to think of it as a conversation between the Father and His child. It is simple prayer that God loves, because it is the prayer of a child. And, we know how God thinks of little children. He loves them so much so that we have to BE like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.

"Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
– Matthew 18:3

It is not too late to make more time for God. We must remember that Christmas does not end on December 26. Big business and the commercial part of Christmas may end the holiday on December 26, but Christmas is a 12 day season. For Catholics, as an example, it officially ends on the second Sunday after Christmas, on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. For the Traditional (Latin rite) Catholics, it ends on February 2, on the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Nativity scenes are left out until this day in Catholic Churches.

No matter what our beliefs are, we should celebrate Christmas for a while, not just a day. We can spend the rest of the year reflecting on His birth, and it would be a good time to think about our New Year's resolutions, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us on what God wants us to do with our lives in 2014.

So, I have an interesting suggestion for all of us to do. Let me share a short story before I expand on my idea.

About a month ago, at Sunday Mass, a visiting priest gave an inspiring sermon. He struck me with these words: The mission is in the name. I thought to myself, "What is my mission? The mission is in the name..." This thought played in my head like a broken record. It was followed by this thought, "My mission is in my name. What does my name mean?"

Recently, I decided to learn about my name, and I am still looking into it in depth. So far, my name means "to bind", "captivate", "to join together". It is interesting to look into names, because, in a way, I am learning more about myself and what God wants from me.

So here is my suggestion: Learn about your name. The plan that God has for us, our mission, is in our names! Our personalities, who we are, where we are going, what we are doing – the questions that we ask when slow times, confusion, doubt and insecurity hit us – is in the name that we were given by God. All parents' thoughts of what they want to name their children come from God. It was the same with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

"31 Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 31 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end."
– Luke 1:31-33

" angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')."

– Matthew 1:20-23

Jesus' mission was in His name: He will rescue us from sin and death, and He is with us. Christ's mission is in the name, "Christmas". What is our mission? What do our names mean?

For the remainder of 2013, we will look into our names. We could even look into our middle names, even our last names. Then, we will ask God what He wants in regards to the meanings of them. We will learn so much about ourselves and how to help others better. Then, let us take some time in silence. His voice is, usually, barely a whisper.

When we hear what He says, we must be ready to answer the call and ask for the graces to carry out our mission. We must not be afraid, because He will be with us every step of the way, whether we feel His presence or not. We can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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