Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. That’s right. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
All of us are familiar with this jingle that we learned as kids, but over time what I have come to learn is that it is simply not true. Sticks and stones may well break bones, but names and name-calling can hurt a great deal. Words and names are powerful, with significant meaning. Name-calling and the words we use to describe one another have the ability to destroy a person’s reputation and self-esteem.
We also know that the names we call one another, the words that we use to describe one another, can be a wonderful source of encouragement, support, and affection. When we choose our words to tell someone what a great job they have done or how nice they look or how proud we are of them, or if we say to a friend or family member how intelligent, kind, helpful, or generous they are, these words and descriptions enhance our lives and bring out the very best in relationships.
As adults, we know the power that words and names have. And, as human beings, and more so as Christians, we have the obligation – the responsibility – to choose our words and name-calling carefully. Just like when we claim and embrace the name Christian, we accept a certain responsibility attached to that name from which people expect a certain kind of behavior.
“THESE WORDS…ENHANCE OUR LIVES…”
On August 27th, we’ll hear Jesus ask a terribly important question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples respond, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus hears this and asks Peter and all of us perhaps one of the most profound questions each of us must grapple with and answer over time, “But who do you say that I am?” How we answer that question makes all the difference in the world as it did for Peter. Peter’s response to the Lord is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter’s insight through the grace of God changes his life forever. With his response, Jesus entrusts Peter with a great deal of responsibility. It is to Peter that the keys of the Kingdom of God are given. When we acknowledge that Jesus truly is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one of God, then we too share in an awesome responsibility as did Peter. In naming Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we take on the responsibility of showing to others how we can make this a profession of faith. This profession of faith is best witnessed by the names we call one another.
As we gather to celebrate the Eucharist this August, we come together as a grateful people with the knowledge that Jesus has claimed us as his very own. With the sacrament of the breaking of bread we proclaim that Jesus is Lord…and this makes all the difference in the world.