Most Holy Name of Jesus

Today, the Roman Church celebrates the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. The Society of Jesus celebrates this as its titular feast, since St. Ignatius of Loyola wished to have no other name for the “least society” than that of the most holy name through which we are saved: Jesus.

God revealed his name to Moses, but the people of the covenant well understood that they should not pronounce this most holy name except in obedience to the one who gave it, lest they begin to think that, through the name, they might exercise some control over the one they were naming. We Christians would do well to take this to heart, for the name of God revealed to us in the name of Jesus bears the same power and merits the same reverential disposition, if it is indeed the name of the One who is true God and true man.

The scriptures attest that heaven is intent on ensuring that the Word made flesh receives the right name, even if—mirabile dictu!—this Word humbles himself to receive this name from Mary’s husband in the usual manner prescribed by the law at the moment of his circumcision (Mt 1:21, Lk 2:20). The name that this Word desires (as God!) and receives (from a man!) is not an unutterable name, but one which was and is a common one in Israel, the name of Moses’ successor: “Yeshua,” (Joshua). This name means “YHWH saves,” and in Jesus, this saving name, this saving person, is handed over to us, with the invitation that we speak the name and know the person who bears it, for it is through this name of this person that we are saved.

January 3rd, 2017