I Heard My Father Call My Name

Today’s Gospel is the familiar passage in Luke that we often refer to as Finding Jesus in the Temple.  Twelve-year old Jesus and his family have been in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  When the group from Nazareth begins to return home, Jesus is not among them.  When Mary and Joseph retrace their steps, the ultimately find him in the temple with the teachers.

In the typical translation, Jesus response to his parents’ when they tell him they have been looking for him with great anxiety is “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Louis Savary, in his book The New Spiritual Exercises, offers a different translation.  Savary reports that among the Aramaic- speaking people in Palestine, the phrase Jesus used would more accurately have been understood as “I heard my Father call my name, and how could I not respond.”   Savary goes on to say that that translation

Showed that Jesus’ reply to his parents was announcing three things: (1) the fact that, during the Passover time, Jesus had received his divine calling; (2) that he knows who his true Father is; and (3) that he has responded to his father’s call…  He had said “yes to that call, just as his mother had said “yes” to the divine call in her youth, and just as Joseph had said “yes” to the call he had received in a dream…

And, for Jesus, that yes changed everything: The next time we see him in the Gospels, he has the powerful experience of his father as he is baptized in the River Jordan.

Jesus heard the call of his father and he said yes.

When I read this passage, and when I reflect on Jesus’ response to his parents, I pray: let me always hear your voice and let me always respond as Jesus did.

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One thought on “I Heard My Father Call My Name

  1. Reblogged this on Séamus Sweeney and commented:
    “I heard my father call me name” … I do wonder if Margaret Craven was aware of this when she called her novel of an Anglican priest’s life and death among the First Peoples of remote British Columbia “I Heard the Owl Call My Name”?

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