At Mass this morning, Father quoted Shakespeare's Othello, saying:
"Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing
'Twas mine,'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."
When we mess with someone's good name, we steal from them something that is precious. What's in a name (Romeo and Juliet)? In a word: Everything.
I don't know about you, but my name has been said with a note of derision on occasion. And it's true that it would have been far less painful for that person to steal earthly possessions from me than to steal my good name.
At Mass today, I thought about this for just a moment, and then, I thought about someone else. Jesus was not the only one who suffered by having His name slandered. He was mocked, called the King of the Jews, even as He hung from a cross.
No, I did not steal His good name. But there is one dear to Him whose good name I have stolen.
She was called the most blessed among women - according to the words of Sacred Scripture. All generations would call her blessed, the Bible tells us.
But I have been among those who stole her good name, making her to be something far less than she truly is. I have been among the ranks of those who remade her into someone-who-should-not-be-called-blessed-among-women, someone who should not be blessed-by-every-generation.
When I was a Protestant, I stole the good name of Mary. Even as I praised the name of Jesus, I reduced His mother to something very small, something almost non-existent.
In my defense, I thought that honoring Mary would somehow lessen my gift-of-self to Jesus. I was wrong. On so many levels, I was wrong.
Is there any doubt that the Perfect Son honored His mother?
Who am I to relegate this one who is called blessed-among-women to the status of something else? Who am I to purge her name completely from my lips?
I have stolen her good name. I have blotted it out.
full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb