Growing up in the 1960s, I was often asked if I was related to Rocky Marciano, the famous undefeated prizefighter. He was from Brockton, Massachusetts. I was from outside New York City, on the Jersey side. When I was in college, I often joked that being related to Rocky would have been handy so he could protect me from the bullies at school. We pronounced his name the same as mine – “Mar” (think car) “ci” (think the word see) “an” (you’ll have to figure that one out) “o” (as in oh). Mar-ci-an-o.
I was fine until I met Sergio, an Italian from Italy. He spoke very good English, yet had a strong Italian accent. I was wearing a name badge with “Tony Marciano” on it. He looked at me and said my name. But it wasn’t what I heard my entire life. It was nothing of how I introduced myself to others.
Sergio looked at me said, “Antonio Marciano.” But Marciano was no longer a four-syllable word. It was two and half if you can have a half syllable. This is how it sounded:
Antonio Mar (think car – nothing changed, but that’s the only thing that was the same. The rest of it was one and one-half syllables “smooshed” into one. The “ci” is pronounced with a “ch” sound – he continued with “chan” and slid into “o”. Mar-chan-o. That was how he pronounced my last name.
Then there is my first name. Tony is not a nickname for Anthony. When young Italians were leaving Italy and coming to America, the adults wrote on their arm “To New York” or “TONY.” In Italy, the nickname for Anthony is Antonio.
I am not Tony Marciano. I should be addressed as “Antonio Marchano.” How ironic all my relatives from New Jersey call me Anthony. None of them call me “Tony”.
Names are very important. In the French language, when you ask someone their name, they don’t say, “my name is…”. Rather, the response is, “I call myself….” In some Christian faith traditions, when you complete confirmation, you can take on a middle name. I chose Ralph because all the men in my family were called Ralph. Unfortunately, I included that on my marriage license. Years later a registrar informed me that the name on my marriage license didn’t match my social security card. I had to get it fixed. I may have been living in “sin” all those years (LOL).
In the days of the Old Testament, to state one’s name was to share one’s character. When Moses was challenged with the task of explaining to the children of Israel that God sent him, he begged God to share His name with him. God told Moses to tell the children of Israel that His name was “I am that I am.”
In that moment, God revealed his character. There are other names for God:
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
Your name is more than the words on our birth certificate. Your name is a reflection of who you are. God’s name is the same for Him.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Visit www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.