Au In the beginning was the Word

1. -    In Jesus´ prayer, the first thing he asks the Father is that his name be hallowed. Nevertheless, this seems superfluous: what need has God, the “saint” (Is 6,3), to have his name made holy?. Like Saint Agustin said: “Asking for the hallowing of the divine name, does it not looks like you pray to God for God, and not for you?”. On the other side, the question of the name, does it not seem merely conventional?

2. -    In the Bible the name expresses the reality of things and persons, their roll, their meaning, their function. It also indicates the social dimension of the persons, id est, his surname. In this way, to make holy means to praise, to bless, to glorify. It is expressed in Psalm 113: Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever. From east to west, may the name of the Lord be praised.

3. -    At the beginning, Israel’s God does  not have a name of his own, but he is known in virtue of his relationship with the patriarchs: he is Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God. With Moses, god reveals his name: Yahweh, that who is with his people, the Lord (Ex 3,14). He is a living God who denounces the oppression and opens the way to liberation: I have seen the humiliation of my people in Egypt (Ex 3,7). Forward on, his name will congregate the disperse tribes.

4. -    He is the only true God: Before me no God was formed, neither will there be one after me (Is 43,10). Israel will not have other gods. Do not worship another god, for Yahweh is a jealous God (Ex 34,14). Israel will invoke the name of the Lord, but he will not pronounce it in false, nor will abuse it. Do not swear falsely by my name so as to profane the name of your God (Lev 19,12).

5. -    In the Psalms the name of God is very often blessed: I will rejoice in the Lord for his justice and sing to the Most High in gratitude and praise (Ps 7,18), O Lord, our Lord, how great is your name throughout the earth! (8,2), I rejoice and exult in you, I sing praise to your name (9,3), I will proclaim your name to my brothers, I will praise you in the assembly (22,23), give the Lord the glory due to his name (29,2), together let us glorify his name (34.4), I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good (54,8), so I will sing praises to your name and fulfil my vows day after day (61,9), all the earth bows down to you, singing in honour of your name (66.4), sing to God, sing praises to his name (68,5), I will praise the name of God in song (69,31), it is good to give thanks to the Lord, I sing praise to your name, O Lord (92,2), bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; My God, how great you are (103,1), I thanks to your name, for your love and faithfulness (138,2), I will bless your name for ever (145,1).

6. -    In the Psalms we also find many ways and very diverse situations of blessing or invoking the name of the Lord: In hope we wait for the Lord, for he is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in him, for we trust in his holy name (33,21-22), thus gave I gazed upon you in the sanctuary, to see your power and your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will bless you as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on your name. (63,1-5), praised be the Lord, God of Israel, who alone works so marvellously. Praised be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! (72,18-19), help us, God of our salvation, for the glory of your name (79,9), because he clings to me in love, I will rescue him, says the Lord; I will protect him for he knows my name (91,14), give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his works among the nations. Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds. Glory to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always (105, 1-3), not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, for the sake of your love and faithfulness! (115,1).

7. -    Running the year 592 b. C., prophet Ezekiel is in Tel Aviv, near the river Kebar, about 1.300 kms from Jerusalem, in a community of exiled people. For Ezekiel the exile experience is the result of a degeneration of which there is no conscience. God’s name profanation contaminates and disperses the people and, on the contrary, His name sanctification purifies and congregates him. Because of Israel, nations form themselves a false idea of God: It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of my holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone. I will make known the holiness of my great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am Yahweh when I show them my holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. (Ez 36, 22-25).

8. -    John’s mission, who baptizes in water for conversion (Mt 3,8) is enclosed in this purification perspective. Jesus mission walks in this same line, assuming and going over it: it calls to conversion and announces that the kingdom of God is at hand (Mk 1,15), he baptizes in the Holy Spirit (1,8), makes known to his disciples the name of God (Jn 17,6) and God’s name purifies the temple (Phil 2,10)

9, -    The name that more deeply expresses God´s being is that of Father. Jesus makes is known (Mt 11,25 ss). He asks the Father: hallowed be your name (Lk 11,2). Before his death too, that he manifests like the wheat seed that falls in the ground and produces fruit, Jesus says: Father, glorify your Name! (Jn 12,28). God will accomplish this showing his action and his glory in Jesus favour, giving him the Name, which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2,9b-10).

10. - In the last supper, Jesus prays in this manner: Righteous Father, the world has not known you but I know you, and these have known that you have sent me. As I revealed your Name to them, so will continue to reveal it, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I also may be in them. (Jn 17,25-26).

11. - Christians must praise God´s name and be careful so that their behaviour does not take other to curse.  In this way of thinking, Paul advise has a permanent value: Well, then, you who teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? If you say that one must not steal, why do you steal? You say one must not commit adultery, yet you commit it! You say you hate idols, but you steal in their temples! You feel proud of he Law, yet you do not obey it, and you dishonour your God, In fact, like the Scriptures say, the other nations despise the name of God because of you. (Rom 2, 21-24).

12. - Like a “saint and needed of purification” church (LG 8), renovated by the conversion to the Gospel, we know that in the atheism’s genesis the proper believers “may have had a, not small, participation, as far as the carelessness in religious education, or the inadequate exposition of the doctrine, or, even more, the defects of their religious, moral and social life, have veiled more than revealed the true God’s face and the religion” (GS 19).

13. - Also now, like in Ezekiel and Jesus time, the future is in the renovated, purified community. And this can be accomplished in us: Your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in Heaven (Mt 5, 16), In this way, God’s name is not profaned nor cursed, but blessed and glorified. Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth, as does your name, O God. (Ps 48, 11). We are invited in the Scriptures: So now, with all your heart and in full voice, sing and bless the Name of the Lord (Sir 39,35). And also: Let us, then, continually offer through Jesus a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips celebrating his name (Hb 13,15).

    Dialogue: What do we ask when we say: hallowed be your name?