He predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ, simply because it pleased him to do so. This he did for the praise of the glory of his grace, of his free gift to us in his Beloved, in whose blood we have gained redemption, and the forgiveness of our sins.
From this eveningâ€™s Canticle taken from the first chapter of St. Paulâ€™s Epistle to the Church at Ephesus.
This evening we begin this three-day celebration, marked by worship in liturgy and in festive repast. We start with Vespers, the age-old rhythm of prayer in which we join with the entire Church praying through the psalms. How fitting that we pray with the whole Church as the whole Church prays with us.
This prayer, as with the Holy Masses we will celebrate is a communal action, joining the Body of Christ outwardly and mystically.
The words joining, communal. the whole â€“ all speak to the unity we have in the Holy Name of Jesus. It is what St. Paul often speaks of â€“ the one Body of Christ, each person with a role, each person a member. In Ephesians 1 Paul calls us adopted children through Jesus Christ.
As adoptees, we are members of the family of God. We have become co-heirs to the promises of the Father right beside His Son Jesus. This is a wonderful and happy prospect. It is a gift given to us by the Fatherâ€™s beloved Son, Jesus.
The amazing and Most Holy Name of Jesus. It is interesting that this parish, currently Holy Name of Jesus, grew out of St. Josephâ€™s parish. It was Joseph, who having received instruction in a dream, gave Godâ€™s Son the name Jesus. Joseph listened to the voice of God and did what was asked of him. So, back-in-the-day the people of this parish listened to the inspiration given them and decided to dedicate this parish to Jesusâ€™ Holy Name.
The amazing and Most Holy Name of Jesus. I suppose it would have been a bit easier to keep the name St. Josephâ€™s for this parish. We can relate to Joseph as a person, as a holy and righteous man who carried out Godâ€™s instruction. It is kind of hard to relate to an idea like a name. That is more conceptual. What does a name mean, what does it denote, what can it do?
We have plenty of scriptural evidence that tells us of the power of Jesusâ€™ name, what it denotes and does. In Acts 3:16, the Holy Name of Jesus heals. Seventy-five times in the Gospels and Acts we find phrases like: the name of Jesus, the name of the Lord, His name, and other references. Jesusâ€™ name is one of power and hope. In Acts 4:12 we hear Peter and John tell those persecuting them that: â€œSalvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.â€ True life, eternal life, freedom from sin come from the Name of Jesus. Acts 2:21 tells us: â€œAnd everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.â€ So, we have been privileged to call upon His name and to be dedicated to His Holy Name, to be saved by and in His Holy Name.
But there is more.
During this weekend of celebration, look around. Look into the faces of people touched by our bearing witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. Then look deeper.
As Christians we often bandy about the idea that everyone is created in Godâ€™s image, that each person is a reflection of Jesus. You know, whatever you do or say to them, you do or say to Me. That is absolutely true. But there is more. Each person also bears within themselves the Name of Jesus.
For some, it is right out there for all to see. Some can certainly say: I bear the Name of Jesus in all I say and do. I proclaim Jesus wherever I go. For others it may be more subtle, not quite on top, but we can perceive through their actions, their goodness and compassion, that they bear the Name of Jesus. Still for others, it is much harder to find, so much so that we forget they bear the Name of Jesus in them. We forget that Joe, Mary, Estelle, Nancy, Hypathia, Tony or the other is marked with the Name Jesus just as much as we are.
This is where that great hymn we began with should jump to the fore of our minds and lips: Holy God we praise Thy Name. For if we fail to act with compassion and charity toward anyone, we do not praise His Name we reject it, and thus reject the adoption, salvation, and healing His Holy Name brings.
This is a great and humbling lesson we must carry forth from here. It is a lesson for the next millennia â€“ to continue to carry out the work underway here since 1921.
For one hundred years, a century, we have opened our hearts and have seen the Name of Jesus in others, caught a glimpse of His image in them and welcomed them. We have grasped unto His adoption, healing, and salvation. We have brought comfort to the dispossessed, the stranger became no more a stranger. Those whose dignity was insulted found restoration here. Those who came without left filled. We praised His Holy Name. We greatly and rightly praised the Holy Name of Jesus.