Jesus – It’s a Boy

This year I interviewed the actress Hayley Mills and was immediately reminded of an old film, Whistle down the Wind, where some children found a fugitive from justice sheltering in a barn, somewhat akin to a stable. Their assumption was that this was Jesus. A thought then occurred to me. Followers of religion have, by tradition, taken to giving names to their children that reflect their beliefs. The Abrahamic faiths are no exception often choosing the most revered names that reflect their respective convictions. Whether they are Abraham, Ruth, Mohammed, Manha, Mary or Joseph, many of our chosen names are or have been an indication of devotion to ancient ways of life. What has puzzled me for some time is the reluctance of many western, in particular Anglican-Episcopalian communities, to name a child Jesus –Eashoa in Aramaic. Though the name is relatively common in some Spanish speaking countries, predominately Catholic, the name has never been adopted, for example, in the UK: if it had I think I may have met one during the past 58 years. I once had step-grandchildren called Joshua, Jonah and Noah, names that derive from the Old Testament, almost as if their parents were ‘circling’ around the name that ‘may not be used’. The first time I remember encountering anyone with the name Jesus was that of an equestrian show jumper on TV: I think he was Portuguese or Mexican. It has always stuck in my mind as somewhat of a novelty. Perhaps we’re sensitive, maybe even uncomfortable or embarrassed at the thought of naming a child Jesus. Surely it can’t be irreverent or sacrilegious as there are millions around the world that have Jesus as their given name. Clearly it can’t be as simple as a dislike of the name: therefore why aren’t our nurseries and schools full of little boys called Jesus happily playing alongside Miriam and Parvez? May I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, safe and loving 2014.

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