The Name of God

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


THERE is an adage that says: What is in a name? A name says who a person is. It gives a person’s identity. People have been asking me: what is the name of God?

The people in the Old Testament believed that God has no name. When Moses asked God: Who are you? What is your name? God answered: I am Yahweh. Yahweh is a Hebrew word that means: I am who I am. This is an English translation of the word. You hardly can call that a name.

A Carmelite confrere of mine, Kees Waayman, who is a Bible expert, has invented a proper name for God in Dutch: Wezer. Translated in English, it says: Be there, meaning: I am there, I am there for you. This expresses somehow who God is. He is there for us. That is the essence of who God is: to be there for his people.

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Some people in Holland who are familiar with the name Wezer address God as Wezer. I myself still prefer to call God Father and address Him as Father. The Muslims do not believe that God has a name. Their God is Allah. I do not know what is the meaning of Allah. The Muslims neither believe in the Trinity. They say: God has no Son or Spirit. Here we see that there is a fundamental difference between the Christian and the Muslim religion, although both religions are monotheistic. They believe in one God.

For us Christians, God is Yahweh, i.e. ‘I am there for you’. For us Christians also, Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, Jesus is ‘I am there for you’. This name expresses a relationship, there is a relation between God and us, a relationship of love. The liturgy of the Church expresses this in the beautiful song: ‘Yahweh I know you are there, You are always at my side’. When God created man in his image He intended man to be: I am there for you.

In other words: we are there for each other, we are made for each other. If God is Love, then we are simultaneously Lover, Beloved and Loving.
Pope Benedict XVI has declared next year as the Year of Faith. The Pope wants us to reflect on our faith. What does faith mean to us? We must mature in our faith life. We have to own the religion that we profess. We must make it our own. One way of doing this is to reflect on it, like I am doing here in this column, to reflect on the Name of God. In my previous columns I have reflected on the Face of God.

The Pope stated in his message: ‘The New Evangelization needs adults who are mature in the faith and witnesses of humanity’. This goes for ordinary lay people in the Church but also for priests and bishops. If an ordinary priest still calls himself or wants to be called a monsignor, this is to say the least, immature if not dishonest. The title of monsignor belongs rightfully to a bishop and not to an ordinary priest. You can apply for that title in Rome but you have to pay a lot of money for it. The priests and bishops must be good shepherds like Yahweh is the Good Shepherd. They must not be dictators. Again the Pope said in his message: ‘Watch and work so that the Christian community will be able to form adult persons in the faith because they have encountered Jesus Christ, who has become the fundamental reference of their life; persons who know him because they love him and they love him because they have known him; persons capable of giving solid and credible reasons of life’.
(For your comments, email nolvanvugt@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 02, 2012.

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