Thanks for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.
God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
This has always been one of my favorite prayers. Well, mostly the “keep safe what you have nurtured” part because who doesn’t want that?
While it doesn’t start out with the word who, we do have a description of God. He is the God of might. Imagine strength, vigor, bravery, courage, and excellence all rolled into one. We also learn that God is the giver of every good gift. Including the one we ask for in this week’s Collect.
This gift we are asking for is that God put into our hearts the love of his name. The verb put (insere in Latin) is interesting. While it does mean to put in, it also means to graft, or to sew in. We see what grafting looks like when we look at roses. Often times, the beautiful tea roses are grafted into the rootstock of a winter-hardy rose bush. The roots are sliced open a bit and the new branch is inserted. The rootstock and the new branch now grow as one. Now, just imagine that the new stem, which will soon bear a beautiful tea rose, is the gift of love of the name of God.
God’s name is unlike any other name. We learn in the Old Testament, that in revealing his name, God invited us into intimacy with him. He wants us to be in relationship with him. Although he already knows everything about us, he wants us, using our own free will, to tell him and show him who we are. He also wants us to get to know him.
Calling on his name makes God present. In his Discourse on the Name of Jesus, Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori, writes that this name consoles us. It is like an oil poured out (Song of Songs 1:2). This oil serves for light, for food, and for medicine. This name defends us, it protects us from the evil deceits and assaults of our enemies.
St. Ligouri also writes that this name “inflames with holy love all those who pronounce it with devotion” because the name recalls for us how much he has done and has offered to save us.
God’s name carries great power. In his books about his ministry, exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth noted that demons do not call God or Jesus by their names, instead they refer to him as “your boss” or as “he” because demons cannot speak this holy name. In Philippians 2:10-11, Paul reminds us that “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” In this scripture verse, every means every!
Now, imagine having all of this, the intimacy, the consolation, the oil, the holy love, and the power, grafted into the very core of your being. That is the love of God’s name in our hearts.
This prayer also has something to gain, I call it the Accrue. It starts with the conjunction “so that.” With our sense of reverence deepened, by loving the name of God, God will nurture in us what is good, and keep safe what he has nurtured.
Let’s go back to the image of the graft. A new stem isn’t stuck into an old root and left on its own. It’s gently wrapped with grafting tape, it’s watered regularly and the grower keeps an eye on the plant, looking for new growth.
There is just something about the thought of God inserting this love of his name, this love of him, into my heart. Yes, it may take a quick slice to make room, but I promise the results will be worth it. Imagine how God is lovingly wrapping you up, keeping you watered, watching for your growth, he’s so proud in what you’re becoming.
All we need to do to receive God’s nurturing love, is to simply ask him to graft the love of his name in our hearts.
Thanks for praying with me.