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Sunday – 29

We go to church in semi-anonymity. Unless you are seated with a relative or friend, you are unknown to your seatmate in the pews. If you go alone, chances are, you are also looking for a spot where you can blend with the congregation and not be truly noticed by others. That’s how most Catholics go to church. Unlike our other Christian brethren, we do not relish an experience of familiar discourse with others.

But the good news is this: you are not unknown in here! You cannot make the church a hiding place. The priest may not know you personally. Your seatmates may not be familiar with you. But someone here knows you perfectly. As you stand, sit or kneel in church, someone is here calling your name.

The first reading is an excellent lesson in God’s supreme knowledge and his sincere interest in all of us. Isaiah echoes the word of the Lord to Cyrus, the king who is to help God’s people rebuild their lives. God says to Cyrus: I have called you by name.

Isn’t it true that there is no more beautiful word in the universe than our own names? Sure, some of us dream of changing their names. But our names are important to us. It is what identifies us, reveals us and makes us known whether intimately or casually to others. We are proud of our names.

And why not? A name is special. It is not only bestowed on you by your parents at your birth. In baptism, we receive our name from God himself. From that time on, we are known to God as his child and known to him by the name he gave us the moment he welcomed us into his family. Yes, one day, when we enter heaven, it is the name God will use to welcome us again!

God does not only know our names, as we know each other by name. In saying that he calls us by name, the Lord is telling us that he has called us for something special and important. We all have a mission. And he knows that because he can see our mind and heart. Yes, everything is open to the Lord.

It is not merely knowing our names but knowing what is happening within us today. When we come to church, somehow, we feel that God is gently leading us here. And he does so because he knows some of us are afraid today. Others are deeply hurt today. Others are full of regrets. Many of us are thankful and joyful. But many of us are hurting. He calls us to heal us and embrace us in his love.

Do not worry. God knows who you are and he is speaking to your heart with the language of love, friendship and intimacy. Jesus does not call us servants but friends, remember? Just be open to this tremendous experience.

Isn’t it good to know that God is interested in us? He knows us by name. Whatever is happening to you right now, rest in that assurance and deepen your prayer. Try to know others also in a deeper way and share your joy.