John 1:40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter[a]).
What does it mean to be named? When we are born we are named for someone honored by the parents that they knew or heard of. Maybe one of the parents themselves. But the real inspiration is not all on what that name means by the past but what they hope for your future. Even better, it is for how your future character will be and not just accomplishments.
We know that Simon Peter is a flake in the gospels. He denies Jesus, cuts off the ear of a servant, refuses Jesus when He wants to wash him feet, and seems to “blow” a miracle.
But eventually he would be a rock for those around him (that is what Peter, Petros, means). Peter would feed the lambs and the sheep. He would tend to them. Tending is nurturing.
But what does it mean to be named by Jesus compared to the world? We allow people in our lives to name us all the time. For better or worse we hang our identity and even worth on that. In Russia I heard that when two strangers meet that they ask each other their occupations before they ask for names. Humanity is so superficial.
Jesus said we should not judge by mere appearances. Samuel anointed David when he looked like the runt of the litter among his brothers saying, “God looks at the heart.” Jesus comes with the message of restoration for the world and that means going beyond where our present circumstances are.
So just as we know that Jesus looks deep, we need to take the call of Jesus deep. To see ourselves as a follower of Jesus is not just a “religious experience”. To experience the calling of Jesus to be his disciple is not a tap and an instant change but the beginning of a holistic change in heart, soul, mind and strength. To be called by Jesus is beginning of progress before perfection. Then from there, we can pray for discernment on what we can call ourselves in Jesus.
I have been a Christian for over thirty years but how I name myself has taken in a different angle due to Barnabas. When I recently was received into the Catholic Church, I chose Barnabas as my confirmation name. I chose that because in Aramaic it means “son of encouragement”. I would like to say that as a future social worker and, God willing, permanent deacon that I nail that down every time. But I can’t. But I can press on with the encouragement of saints who with all their blemishes knew that their calling was not based on an ideological what, but a loving who. Head knowledge pales in comparison with the grace of relationship.