January 1 is celebrated both as the Naming of Jesus (the 8th day after his birth – Luke 2:21), and as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Mary (“Miriam”) bears the same name as Moses’ sister. A strong woman. She is married to Joseph. The names of the rest of the family are also strong names recollecting their early history of liberation. Jesus (Joshua = “God saves/liberates/sets free”), James (Jacob), Joseph, Simon (Simeon), Judas (Judah), (Matthew 13:55). And, yes, we know Jesus had at least two sisters. It also tells a story that we don’t know their names…

Does your family go in for royal names (George, James, Henry, William, Elizabeth, Anne)? Famous sportspeople? Jesus’ family seemed to choose early liberation names. Jesus’ family chose names from the foundational deliverance stories of their nation. You can imagine what the Roman oppressors thought of people with names like this.

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