“I have called you by name you are mine”

"You are precious in my sight"

Reflection by Fr Tom Rouse - Lower Hutt


One of my favorite Scripture passages is the line “I have called you by name you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Although it is a text that is directed to Israel as a people, it nevertheless reveals God to be One who relates to each one of us on a very personal level. To be called by name reminds me of the experience of Mary of Magdala in the garden following the Resurrection when she meets Jesus (John 20:11-16). Suspecting him to be the gardener, she begged him to let her know where he has taken the body of her dear friend so that she could arrange for a proper burial. All Jesus does is say her name, “Mary!” and her eyes were opened, and she recognized Jesus. Likewise, we are each called by name. We are each called to be missionary disciples. And in the calling, we recognize Jesus because we realise we belong to him and it is his name that we bear as disciples of Jesus.

This call can also be very comforting, especially in light of the following line which reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2) These words conjure up other stories and images of God or Jesus accompanying people as they face unimaginable challenges, even threats to life. There is the story of the three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were thrown in the fiery furnace and the story of Jesus calling St Peter out of the boat during the storm on the lake. These stories speak to our own times as we face an ongoing pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine and various other wars and military coups around the world, the experience of a global recession and political unrest in various parts of the world. Then there is the effects of climate change and the unstable weather patterns that have resulted in the melting of the icecaps, widespread and unpredictable flooding, huge firestorms, etc.

A challenge for the Church and for missionaries is to support people during these difficult times. Since our Society of St Columban was founded back in 1918, we have accompanied people through flooding in China back in the 30s, World War II, experiences of war in the various countries where we have worked, military coups, widespread poverty, etc. Why do we stay with people during these trying times and tragic circumstances? Perhaps the words of Isaiah help to highlight how we see people through the eyes of God who says that he/she stands with us “because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)

These are such powerful and touching words that express God’s deep feeling for creation. We are called to share that same sense of oneness with those around us and, indeed, with the plants and the animals and the seas and mountains. Jesus expressed this intimate connection with people and all creation through his feeling for people and his stories. As missionary-disciples, may we hold within our hearts and minds that love which urges us persevere, to share the pain and to engender a sense of hope and trust.

May God bless us all as we hear those words – “I have called you by name you are mine”.

Tom Rouse - Lower Hutt

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Required fields are marked *

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment:*