Monday, January 14, 2013

Brand Me

Friends of Faith:

Do you go out of your way to search for a certain brand name?
Have you ever thought about “Kleenex” for example? All tissues –regardless of their “brand” are associated with Kleenex. I can’t ever recall asking someone for a “Puffs.”

Brands become our identity, our label. Good or bad. We can even change that label if we want with a new ad campaign, by promoting ourselves differently to those around us. But there are also many “imitators” of those brands, imitators which can also become good or bad.
We are given our “brands” at our baptisms as Christians. We are marked with our identity. We are given a name, chosen by our parents, and accepted by God as His child. He has called each of us by name.  

Have you ever looked at the meaning of the name you were given? I find it interesting and surprising how often that name, chosen when we were infants, chosen before we had personality, even sometimes chosen when we were still within the womb, can have such truth in its meaning.
We celebrated Jesus Christ’s baptism this weekend. His baptism was the public revealing of his ministry here on earth. But his name, like ours, his eternal identity, was given to him by God before he was conceived.

“Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,* because he will save his people from their sins.” Mt 1: 20-21
Jesus means God Saves, Emmanuel—God is with Us.  

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” Mt 1: 22-23

And whether he is denied, or he is embraced, he is known. His brand “is with us” through our own baptisms, so that we to might be saved.
There is only one Jesus, true God, true Son, and true man.

His brand has stood the same test of time. 2013 years!
So what makes a brand as timeless and enduring as Jesus Christ? TRUTH! Truth that can’t be denied, truth that can’t be changed, and truth that doesn’t wear out its welcome, truth that is “identifiable.”

And the Church Jesus instituted has also stood this same test of time. It too is branded, named Catholic, universal and one. “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.” Nicene Creed 325 A.D.
A brand, yes, but like Christ instituted by God: an institution to join us to Him, to unify us and to help us through a community and in communion with him, understand His truth.

Jesus Christ cannot be “disproved” or disgraced in the eyes of the true judge, God. Jesus Christ was put here on earth to help us to better identify God himself. Jesus was put here on earth to help us “see” God’s brand of love. The kind of love which chooses a path of sacrifice, of service, and of humility, even to give to those whom we have never met, or for whom we do not yet personally know.
Will our “brand” say that to others—I have given up everything for you? Will we be remembered for all eternity? Or will our brand be short lived and pass away without having left its mark? Do we need to change our identity with a new ad campaign?

God gave us life so that we would be “imitators” of Jesus, imitators of himself. But just like Puff’s is to Kleenex, when we are asked to serve God, we are asked to be “Jesus” to others.
This is what I promised at my baptism, and renewed at my confirmation: to live as Jesus did, with the same service, the same sacrifice, the same compassion and the same repenting and forgiving mercy as He lived for us.

Heavenly Father, You gave us your son, Jesus, to show us the way. You have branded me as Your child, to be Your imitator, to be You for all eternity. Help me to live my baptismal promises, by serving my spouse, my family, my neighbors, with my whole being, without thought as to what I must give up, but rather with the grace and strength, the courage and the wisdom, to live up to Your brand, to be a true “Christ”ian. Thank you for claiming me, for branding me, as Yours. Amen.
Let us be a brand that others desire. Become, and be, an asked for brand, a Jesus, this week.

Because it is in Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus, that we are blessed,

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