Friday, 18 December – What’s in a Name?

18 December


Jeremiah 23:5-8

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:

So, then, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when people will no longer say, “As the Lord lives who brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt!” but, “As the Lord lives who led back and brought home the descendants of the House of Israel out of the land of the North and from all the countries to which he had dispersed them, to live on their own soil.”


Matthew 1:18-24 

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.


…they will call him Emmanuel.

Today is a special day. Not only is it my birthday, it is also exactly a month since my father was baptized with the name David. He had always been known by another name all his life and during his wake, as we said prayers, I am sure some friends felt odd that we were acknowledging him by his new name. For me, it signified dad’s new birth (and therefore his resurrection) as a newly-minted son of God.

I remember the day Fr Jude came to the hospital to baptize him. Mum had just touched down and from Australia rushed to the hospital with my brother. When Fr Jude asked what the baptism name would be, I remember saying ‘David’ without any hesitation. At the exact same time, mum said that she wanted a name that began with ‘D’, I guess because all three of us (myself and two other siblings) had names beginning with ‘D’. For me, the choice came naturally – as the head of our family, dad had always been our king.

Looking back, I think that God put that name in my heart simply because in spite of dad’s sinful nature, there were many others apart from his family who loved and respected him. My mother, siblings and I heard many stories from ex-colleagues, ex-staff and business associates during dad’s wake that truly gave us much comfort. Dad was a man of principle, never afraid to mince his words; yet, he was a humble, caring boss and colleague who always showed concern for the less privileged or to staff who were unhappy at work. He knew everyone by name and always had a greeting or kind word for them.

In the last two years, after he had finally retired, he was a familiar face in Thomson Plaza, where his daily jaunts brought him into contact with most of the shopkeepers and service staff there. Friends who bumped into him there recalled how he would enjoy bantering with the people behind the counters in NTUC, Ya Kun, Old Chang Kee and the Singapore Pools kiosk. He would always ask how they were doing and crack a joke to make them laugh. Dad was larger than life and there was always laughter around him. I can imagine King David also being the same, holding court and making sure all around him enjoyed themselves.

So, brothers and sisters, what’s in a name? Yesterday, we read about our Lord’s genealogy, about how Abraham, Jesse, David, Solomon, Jacob and Joseph came before Jesus. Have you ever looked up your family tree to find out who the first Christian was? Or if you are your family’s first baptized Catholic, how did you pick your name? Was it the result of a prompting from God? Even if it was plucked from thin air, rest assured that your name is a sign from God that marks you as His son or daughter.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: O Lord, you are our creator and father. Each day, you call us by the name you gave us, to do your will and to live our life as you so ordain it. Give us the strength and conviction that comes with your blessing, to live as your true sons and daughters. 

Thanksgiving: Lord Jesus, we thank you for walking hand in hand with us each and every day. 


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