“Your name will no longer be Jacob … your name will be Israel.”     Genesis 32:28

In biblical times names did more than identify people.  Names often revealed something about them. Concerning Mary’s child, Joseph was told in a dream, “You will name him Jesus—because he will save people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21)  Similarly, in biblical times a name change indicated a change in a person.

When Abram and Sarai were chosen to parent a great nation, God renamed them Abraham and Sarah.  This background helps us understand Jacob’s name change to Israel.  He is now the official bearer of God’s promise to his father, Abraham.  He is to father twelve sons, who will father the twelve tribes of Israel.  They will be known as Israelites.

At baptism I was renamed Christian. 
What does this name reveal about me? 
How well am I living up to my calling?
The believers were…called Christians.
Acts 11: 26

Excerpted from Action by Fr. Mark Link, S.J.
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