The Feast of the Holy Name is not about remembering a baby, but remembering that the God whose name is unpronounceable, unspeakable, and ultimately unknowable, is the same God who comes to us in the person of Jesus who knows us, and loves us, and ultimately saves us. —James Koester, SSJE.
Today we celebrate the holy name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Luke tells us that on the eighth day after Jesus’ birth, He was circumcised, according to Jewish custom. On that eighth day, Jesus was formally given His name…. “Therefore, God highly exalted Him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…” Jesus, the Savior of the World, has come into the world, and the name Jesus carries with it the meaning of salvation – God saves, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
What do you think of when you hear the name, Jesus? What instantly comes to mind? I could not honestly tell you, exactly, what passes through me when ‘Jesus’ is spoken by me or someone else but I know it does something to me. Jesus, for me, means salvation, as the root of the name implies. Jesus saves, Jesus loves, Jesus presses us, Jesus surrounds us. Jesus probably did not think about his name that often, like most of us; he simply lived as the Father commanded, living into His ministry, with great humility and grace. Jesus, the Holy Name, is God’s pure expression of His divine presence, grace, and willingness to save us. At the name of Jesus, we understand that the world is changed …. we cannot help but think of the Holy Name that “humbled himself,” becoming obedience to death – even death on a cross.”
Blessed and praised be God on this first day of the new year. May we hold fast to the life and death of Jesus, and all that His holy name implies. Jesus…that name. It makes my knees weak, my heart fly, my hopes rise. May we never lose the ability or the desire to speak the name of Jesus. I will leave you with this, from Fr. Henri Nouwen: “For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, men and women to be loved.”