First reading: Exodus 3:13-15
Psalm: Ps. 113:1-6
Epistle: Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and for evermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
Today’s Solemnity holds special significance for our Parish, for it was established under the patronage of Jesus’ Most Holy Name. It is our patronal feast day.
All Churches are dedicated to the worship of God, of course, and when Christians first became able to build churches they built them on holy sites associated with events in scripture, the life of Jesus, or over the tombs of the martyrs. If the site where the parish church was being built had no particular significance the parish church would be dedicated in the name of God, the Trinity, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, a saint, or an event from the history of salvation.
The naming of parish churches keeps the history of salvation before our eyes and in our thoughts in a particular way. As such, the celebration of a parish feast ought to be something special, full of prayer and fellowship. It is a celebration, a kind of birthday party. It is something that every parishioner should participate in, giving thanks to God for our place of worship, for God’s mercies to us, for the intercession and protection of our patron in our walk through life. For our parish family and our fellowship it is Jesus’ Holy Name.
We can see that our parish family truly recognizes the import and power of Jesus’ Holy Name. We notice that when Jesus’ name is spoken in the liturgy – and hopefully also in our personal lives – we bow our heads. Jesus’ Holy Name is recognized when we say ‘Praise be the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ’ and we reply ‘now and forevermore.’
This Solemnity is interesting. In our Holy Polish National Catholic Church it has been consistently celebrated. Not so in other places. This Solemnity has been celebrated on any number of days or not at all. In some Churches it has been celebrated variously on January 1st, in some places as only an optional celebration on January 3rd, 8th, 14th, 15th, or 31st. In some places on August 7th. On February 14th, 1969 the Roman Church removed the feast and only later restored it in 2002.
As a Church and a parish we have consistently recognized the power and beauty of Jesus’ Holy Name. It is in His Name that we are saved. It is in His Name that we are blessed and reconciled. It is in His Name that we are made the children of God and co-heirs to the promises of heaven.
St. Bernard, writing on the Holy Name of Jesus, tells us that reciting Jesus’ Holy Name produces holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections.
We are all in great need. There is a cure for our needs. In the faith-filled invocation of Jesus’ Holy Name we are sustained, cured, led away from ills like anger, pride and inappropriate passions. In Jesus’ Name we are given the powerful grace needed to conquer, and assurance of His life giving compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most generous of names. If we allow the Name of Jesus to reach the depths of our heart, we will be changed and filed with heavenly virtue.
St. Bernard tells us that when we take up our pen, write the Name Jesus: if we write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, If we are ill, call on Jesus’ Name. It we are troubled, call on His Name. If we are in danger, spiritually or bodily, call on His Name. No temptation, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist His Holy Name.
Yet today, blasphemies against Jesus’ Holy Name are rampant. We, as the special beneficiaries of the graces we receive in Jesus’ Holy Name, must never take it in vain or use it as a weapon against anything or anyone. It should be seen solely as our defense against evil. If we hear it being misused, say a prayer for that person, that they might come to realize the beauty and power of what they so recklessly step on. Not that they be punished, but that they be saved.
We, as a parish and a Church have been greatly blessed in honoring Jesus’ Holy Name. May His Holy Name ever remain before our eyes, hearts, and minds. Let us hold it in highest honor and love it. In doing so we are and will continue to be blessed. Amen.