Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Holy Name of Jesus—4 January AD 2015

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - English
Mass Text - Latin

    I'd like to ask you to form a picture in your mind of a woman who had just one son.  And that son spent a great deal of time with her during his youth—not that he was a “momma's boy,” but that she was talented and devoted woman, and the boy enjoyed her company and liked to spend time with her.  The woman took her son everywhere she went—purposefully—so that he could learn about the world around him.  The boy's name was Joseph, but everyone called him “Joey.”  And in a very few short years, Joey grew up; becoming strong, and reasonably well educated, and a good holy young man.

    Now, about the time that Joey would have gone off on his own, a serious war started, and Joey went off to join the armed forces of his country.  As might be expected, he was a good soldier, respected by his superiors as well as his fellow soldiers.  But the war wasn't going well at first, and Joey went off to battle, and never returned.

    His mother, of course, was broken hearted.  During the first year or two after his death, she would break down crying whenever someone would mention Joey's name.  But as time passed her sorrow eased a bit—and, if someone mentioned Joey, she might be inclined to say a few words about him in the “old days,” or even to say how he had died serving his country.  A few of the close family friends even got to see his medals, which the soldiers had brought to her.

    Many of us have known this kind of situation, even if we haven't experienced it ourselves.  A name can be a very powerful thing, invoking very strong reactions.  We might borrow this understanding, and apply it to today's Mass honoring the Holy Name of Jesus.

    We see that our Lord was named “Jesus.”  This is the Latin equivalent of the Hebrew name, “Jeshua,” or perhaps, “Joshua,” and it means “one who is to save his people.”  As we see from the Gospel, this name was not given to Him by Mary or Joseph, or even by the Angel:  “His name was called Jesus, which was what He was called by the Angel before He was conceived in the womb.”[1]  The Angel didn’t give Him His name, but, rather, called Him what He was by divine decree. His name was of divine and eternal origin—for even before the Fall of Adam and Eve, from all eternity, it was known in the mind of God that He would be the savior of mankind.  This name of “Jesus,” then, has a certain reality which no other name has—springing, as it does, from the divine mind, the fountain of all reality.

    The readings of Sacred Scripture, some of which we hear in today's Liturgy, demonstrate the power which comes from this reality.

    In the name of Jesus, Peter cured a crippled man.  In today's Epistle, he is being called to task for doing so—and he boldly proclaims both what he did, and that "there is no other Name under heaven whereby we must be saved.[2]

    The Gradual and Communion chants, taken from the Old Testament Psalms, echo the sentiment:  Psalm 105:  “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations; that we may give thanks to Thy holy Name."  Psalm 85:  “I will praise Thee . . . and glorify Thy Name forever; for Thou, O God, art sweet and gentle, and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon Thee.”    “All the nations . . . shall glorify Thy Name: for Thou art great, and working wonders."

    The Introit borrows St. Paul's words to the Philippians:  “In the Name of Jesus let every knee bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”

    And, finally, the Collect suggests that “those who venerate His Holy Name here on earth will be filled with the enjoyment of the vision of Him in heaven.”

    In short, those who venerate the Holy Name of Jesus are promised everything from physical and spiritual well being to a share in the glory of heaven.  St. John Chrysostom urges us to do everything in the Name of Jesus: “If you eat, if you drink, if you should marry, if you set out on a journey . . . should you speak of any business . . . call upon Him to help you . . . then apply yourself to the thing at hand.”  “Wherever there is the Lord's name, everything will be well,” Chrysostom continues, "If the names of [rulers] are affixed to documents, to insure that they are authentic, how much more the Name of Jesus. . . . If you say with faith ‘In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,’ you have done what is asked.  And, see what great things you have done; for you have created within you a new man.”

    And that, precisely, is the power of the Holy Name of Jesus—the power of spiritual renewal.  The power to invigorate the healthy soul, the power to raise the spiritually dead soul to life.

    Now, if we go back to the mother who lost her son, we can see a figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was bitterly distressed at the loss of her son on the Cross—even though she fully understood the necessity.  But given the perspective of eternity, she smiles whenever we mention His name.  She honors us with His graces.  She may even show us His decorations; the prints of the nails in His hands, the wound of the lance in His side, His “Cross d’ guerre.”

    But woe to the despicable person who would misuse the Name of a departed Son in the presence of His bereaved mother.  Joey's friends wouldn't allow anyone to speak that way, particularly when his mother was around.  Certainly, Jesus' friends won't either.

    “The Holy Name of Jesus” Saint Bernard of Clairvaux tells us, “is the sweetest song ever sung . . . the happiest thought ever to enter the human mind.  Like oil poured out … it illumines, it nourishes, it anoints our wearied limbs; it brightens the light of our intellect, enkindles love in our hearts, and softens our sufferings.  The Holy Name is our light, our food, and our medicine.”










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