Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Like every good Jewish boy, Jesus was circumcised eight days after His birth and given a name. In his case it was the name which the Archangel Gabriel told Mary she was to call her son, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate a feast in honor of the Name of Jesus. As we read a 2006 reflection by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, given at a time when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, let us honor the Holy Name of Jesus and invoke it upon the human race, that we may find peace through this Name, and that those who are suffering from natural disasters may find strength and consolation in this Name. Archbishop Dolan began this reflection talking about a brother priest who used the name “Jesus” frequently and this irritated him.

As I reflect on it now, I know why it got on my nerves. The tenor of my own religious upbringing was that we would refrain from using the “Holy Name of Jesus.” Thus, I would speak of “Our Lord,” or “Christ.” We even were taught to bow our heads at the Holy Name of Jesus. (Not a bad idea, by the way.) And here was this guy speaking about “our blessed Lord” on a first-name basis! You would think they were best of friends! You would think they had known each other all their lives! He almost sounded like a TV preacher!

Until it dawned on me: as a matter of fact, we are on a first name basis with Christ! I consider “our blessed Lord” my best friend! I have known “our divine Savior” all my life! So guess what? I started calling Him “Jesus,” and since then, never, ever pass up the chance to say His Holy Name.

That episode comes to mind this month of January, traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. His is the Name above every other name! By His Name we are saved! At His Name ever knee should bend! He wants us to call Him by His first name, and he wants us to introduce Him to others. He wants us to be familiar with Him, to be intimate with Him, to speak of Him by name. …

Remember the first words of Pope John Paul II from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on October 16, 19789? “May Jesus Christ be praised!” Sometimes, when pray is difficult, I simply whisper “Jesus!” It is a plea; it is an act of faith. I want to utter that Holy Name of Jesus in ever prayer, in every homily, at every meeting, in ever “mission statement,” at every hospital visit, and in every classroom. “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!” “Both now and forever!”

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