Sometimes all you have to do is say the name and certain images and ideas will immediately come to mind. For example, say the name David Beckham and most people will immediately think of the famous footballer. Say the name Albert Einstein and thoughts of science, intelligence and complicated mathematical formulae will come to mind. Saying the name Mother Teresa of Calcutta will lead to thoughts of prayer and holiness and a life of self-sacrifice. Say the name Jesus Christ and we think of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.
But for most people with whom we share our lives the Holy Name of Jesus is associated with their thumbs. Others think of their toes. Yet others think of their disobedient children or their aggravating boss.
Why do I say this? Well it’s because the only time some people say the name of Jesus out loud is when they hit their thumb with a hammer, or when they stub their toe, or when they get angry at their relatives or their boss.
I am reminded of some stand-up comedian who said that for years he thought his name was Jesus Christ, because those were always the first words out of his father’s mouth whenever his father would get angry at him.
30 years ago the Church suppressed the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and recently it made a comeback in the calendar, albeit as an optional memoria. At a time when the Holy Name of Jesus is either ignored or profaned, it’s good to be reminded of this name that saints and martyrs have held in such reverence.
I recently read a detailed account of the martyrdom of St. Paul Miki and his companions. Paul Miki was born in Japan during the 16th century. He became a Jesuit priest and did some marvellous work evangelizing the Japanese people. A persecution broke out against the Church, and he and twenty-five others (including some very young children) were condemned to death and crucified. As they were hanging in agony on their crosses, they all recited the name of Jesus over and over again. They found strength and peace in the Lord’s name: the strength and peace they desperately needed at that decisive moment as they approached death. They experienced those graces because they said his name with love, reverence and faith.
Our Lord said, ‘Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.’ This is perhaps the most effective reminder that countless blessings are available to us through the Holy Name of Jesus: healing, mercy, forgiveness and God’s peace.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, may your Name be praised and glorified by each and every one of us now and forever. Amen.