What’s in a name? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Today, the first day of the year, we celebrate two feasts—that of Mary the Mother of God, and the Holy Name of Jesus.

When I was still a Jesuit, we marked this day as the big reunion of the Society of Jesus, especially those based in Metro Manila. The event would begin with a session where points for prayer were given; one had the choice to do individual prayer or join a sharing group.

Right before dinner, Mass was celebrated. Dinner was always followed by a program, which usually ended with community singing.

These reunions were always marked by a sense of renewal. Just like family reunions, they were moments to renew the bonds that formed us into a community, a time to renew our vision of who we are and what we are here for.

The Feast of Mary the Mother of God and the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus remind us of identity and mission that come with a name. Mary as the Mother of God is not simply a tribute to Mary, but also celebrates the humanity of Christ which He received through His mother, Mary.

Without this humanity, the fullness of Christ’s mission to be God-with-us—and through this, to save us—will not be possible. It defines Mary’s identity in the context of her mission, which is to share in the mission of her Son to save the world.


The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus also defines Him as the redeemer of the world. His Holy Name is “above every other name.”

The popular devotion to the insignia, IHS, which stands for the Latin “Iesus Hominum Salvator,” or Jesus Savior of Humanity, best represents the value of identity and mission.

What’s in a name, like Mary the Mother of God and the Holy Name of Jesus Savior of Humanity? Everything. It is the only thing that matters, as it defines who we are and what our mission is.

As we begin the New Year, let us spend this day reflecting on our identity. Who are we? What is our mission?

As we face a challenging year ahead, a year of rebuilding, from Eastern Visayas laid to waste by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” to Bohol, to Zamboanga, and even to areas devastated by Typhoons “Pablo” and “Santi,” we must remember who we are as Filipinos and Christians. It is in this identity that we will find the context of our mission.

As Filipinos, we stand in solidarity with our people who long for and hope for healing; to rebuild their lives from disasters, both manmade and natural.

We share with them the resiliency with which they recovered from the tragedies they experienced. As we wrote in a past article, one of them said, “We decided to stop being victims, and to be survivors and rebuild our lives.” This was from a young woman who lost loved ones and property and is now “forced” to live and study  in Manila.

As Christians, we share with one another the enduring hope and faith not just for a better situation, but in the promise of the Kingdom of God where the “good news is proclaimed to the poor”—a kingdom of justice and love.

Today, let us renew this identity and live this year with a sense of mission to be part of rebuilding, not just the devastated areas of our country, but our soul and heart as a nation.

May we begin the year with this blessing (Numbers 6: 23-24): “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”