Jesus said, “The good shepherd calls his sheep by name and leads them out and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” To hear him call our name, we have to know ourselves and be ready to respond.
One of my favorite plays is “Les Miserables.” In the climactic moment, the hero, Jean Valjean, faces the power of his Christian name and what that name compels him to do.
For years Valjean has been living under a name that is an alias because, in his youth, he escaped from a chain gang. He has become a leading citizen — a factory owner and the mayor of his town.
But Valjean learns that someone who looks very much like he looked as a youth has been mistakenly arrested. This innocent man has been brought to trial and is about to be sentenced to the chain gang. If that man is convicted then Valjean will never again have to worry about his own safety.
“If I speak, I am condemned,” he tells himself. “But if I stay silent, I am damned.” And so he declares in the courtroom: “Can I conceal myself forevermore? Pretend I’m not the man I was before? Must my name until I die, be no more than an alibi? Who am I? I am Jean Valjean.”
Who am I? Who are you? Baptized in the name of the Trinity. Called by name. Summoned into God’s loving providence. Called out each morning to follow in the way of Christ — even when we need a second chance to hear him.