God knows us. He calls us by name.

We know this. We can point to Scriptures that say it, we can recite it to each other. For that matter, I even sign each copy of The Nature of a Lady with “He knows your name.” I’ve printed it on tote bags. I’ve put it in a pretty font and positioned it within a lovely floral frame.

It’s true.

But that doesn’t mean we remember it. That we embrace it. That we live it.

We know that not only does God the Father know us and call us by name–our true names, the ones that reveal our true selves even more than whatever name our parents gave us could possibly do–but Jesus died for each one of us. We know that He loved each one of us enough to suffer on that cross. We know that He laid down His life for us. For you. For me.

We know it. But that doesn’t we remember it. That we embrace it. That we live it.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I attended a daily mass on Wednesday night, like we always do. We listened to the beautiful Scriptures. We heard a beautiful homily on the importance and sanctity of life. And then we went up for communion. Father John was there that night, an older gent with white hair and a face that testifies to many years of smiles, of care. He’s relatively new to our parish, just joining the team of three in October. He’s still learning everyone’s names, but he knows ours because of some classes we’re taking–and he gets excited when he sees someone whose name he knows. His eyes light up, and he shakes our hands with a bright smile, saying, “Roseanna, right? And David!”

He’s been making a point of learning all the names he can. I can imagine him repeating them to himself, trying to pair names and faces of any of the 2,000+ families of parishioners in our area that he sees regularly. It’s a job! But the importance of it is clear. And became even clearer that quiet Wednesday night during the Christmas season.

Because that quiet Wednesday night during the Christmas season, when he was talking to us about the children murdered for Christ in Bethlehem upon Herod’s decree, when he was musing about the value of each and every life, what each individual can bring to his family, community, and world, when he reminded us all to mourn the tragedy of each young life ended not only then but today through abortion or neglect–that quiet Wednesday night, Father John held out the communion bread, looked me in the eye.

And he said, “Roseanna. The body of Christ.”

Roseanna. The Body of Christ. Broken for you.

Tears stung my eyes as I accepted that humble little wafer, said, “Amen!” and put it on my tongue. Because even though I’d known this truth for decades, it was the first time in my memory that anyone had said my name while giving me the body of Christ. And it made something quiver within me.

He calls us by name. He sacrificed His body, that same body we take in communion, that same body He invites us into as the Church, for us. For ME. As He was hanging on that cross, Jesus looked out over the centuries, into the eyes of each one of us, and says, “Beloved, this is for you.”

“Roseanna, I’m doing this for you.”

“Karen, I’m doing this for you.”

“Jennifer, I’m doing this for you.”

“Stephanie, Lynn, Elizabeth, Mary, Naomi, Karlene, Kimberly, Danielle, Kerry, Hannah, Pam, Shaleen, Arwen, Barbara, Jessica, Sandy, Rebecca, Caroline, Latisha, Melanie, Bethany, Candice, Cindy, Tina, Terri, Justine, Julie, Alyssa, Rachel, Halee, Bonnie, Nicole, Laura, Margaret, Betty, Deanna, Emily…I’m doing this for YOU.”

It’s a truth we know. But have we heard those syllables echo in our hearts? Down to our souls?

Do we live like it? Do we let it change us, not just once but every single day? Do we strive, in every hour, to become more and more like our Savior?

That quiet Wednesday evening during the Christmas season, Father John made it crystal clear that each life, each person, each name, each one of us is so beloved by our Father and His Son that He would make the ultimate sacrifice for us…and he also reminded me that we are called to be a sacrifice too. A living sacrifice, as Paul calls us–living, but willing to follow Him wherever He leads us.

Today, I pray that you savor that sweet truth on your tongue and in your heart. And I pray, too, that you accept His invitation to share that sweet truth with others.

Because He knows their name too. And He loves them. He loves them so much, that He stretched out His arms on that cross, looked across the centuries, and straight into their eyes too. He calls them by name. And He died for them.  Just like He did for you.

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