A change in name occurs sometimes in Scripture and today’s gospel gives us a classic example. After Andrew gets acquainted with Jesus, he brings his brother, Simon to the Lord. Jesus looks at Simon and says: “You are Simon, son of John. Your name shall be Cephas (which means Peter).”
Later we learn that Peter means rock, and that it is upon this rock that Jesus will build His Church. Thus Simon is given the new name Peter to signify his role as the rock of Christ’s foundation of the Church.
To the ancient mind, one’s name was synonymous with one’s character and personality. Names were carefully chosen because they signified the ideals a person was to live by and the destiny he or she was to pursue.
Changing Simon’s name is Jesus’ way of affirming his faith in Peter as His chief apostle, even though He knew that Peter would one day deny Him.
The new name Peter bore would be a constant challenge to him to live up to its meaning and truly become a rock on whom others could lean and depend in times of crisis.
While having a Christian first name is important, it is more important that God formed us and calls us by name to be His; that Jesus no longer calls us servants but friends, that our names are written in the Book of Life.
If we remember these things about our name, then we will realize better our dignity as disciples, give more direction to our lives and attain our destiny as saints.