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Sunday:       Holy Name of Jesus
Date:         January 3, 2004
Year:         C
The readings: [1 Jn. 2:29; 3:1-6; Jn. 1:29-34]
The message:  At the Name of Jesus every knee should bend.
Prepared by:  CATHOLIC DOORS MINISTRY
Total words:  1459


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** The readings follow the sermon.

My friends, what a beautiful Feast we are celebrating today! It is the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Did you know that the Holy Name of Jesus is so great that it is repeated 977 times in New Testament of the Douay-Rheims?

Today' special celebration, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, is associated with the Feast of the Circumcision. For in accordance to the Jewish culture of the days when Jesus dwelled on earth, a child became a full member of his family when he was circumcised, at which time he received his name.

What is the origin of this Feast you may ask? The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was officially granted to the Franciscans on February 25, 1530. From there, it spread over a great part of the Church. The Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians kept this Feast on January 14th. the Dominicans on January 15. At Salisbury, York, and Durham in England, and at Aberdeen in Scotland, it was celebrated on August 7 th, at Liege on January 31 st and at Compostela and Cambrai on January 8 th.

Around 1643, the Carthusians obtained permission to celebrate this Feast on the second Sunday after Epiphany. Before long, this date was extended to Spain. About eighty years later, on December 20, 1721, the celebration of the Feast on the second Sunday after Epiphany was extended to the Universal Church.

A few years ago, the Catholic Church implemented another liturgical change as to when this special Feast was to be celebrated. This year, its place in the liturgical calendar is found between the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God on January 1 st and the feast of the Baptism of Jesus a week later.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves." [Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21] The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him." [Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20] (C.C.C. 2666)

"The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, [Cf. Mt 6:7] but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." [Cf. Lk 8:15] This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus." (C.C.C. # 2668)

On the matter of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, Saint Bernard (A.D. 1090-1153) expressed:

"The sweet Name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the Name Jesus: if you write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the Name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the Name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the Name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy Name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the Name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish."

"Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this help-giving Name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures. If we call to our minds the Name of Jesus, it brings before us His most meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving and tender compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the Name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the Name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the Name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle, 'If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.'"

Around the Most Holy Name of Jesus is found the nucleus of all creation. It includes the Divinity of God. It is the Name of the fullness of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For Jesus revealed to us the Name of the Father when He said, "Holy Father, protect them in Your Name that You have given Me..." [Jn. 17:11-12]

The Most Holy Name of Jesus includes all the mysteries of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that is found in its liturgy. It is the central point of all the Sacraments.

It embraces the Christian life. The believer begins his journey through faith in Jesus. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, he dies with Jesus, is buried with Jesus and is raised as a new creation with Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to the believer for the growth of the Church that was instituted by Jesus on earth. The believers live their faith in Jesus by manifesting love towards their brothers and sisters in Christ. Individual salvation depends entirely on the final judgment of Jesus.

As the central Feast of all the mysteries of Christ, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus unites all the other Feasts of the Lord. If there was no Jesus, there would be no birth of Jesus, no celebration of Christmas, nor the celebration of the glorious resurrection of Jesus, no Easter. There would be no Sacraments, no being reborn again, no resurrection and no salvation. A world without Jesus would be a world without faith, without hope and without charity.

As the name of each individual person embraces the totality of the person, the Most Holy Name of Jesus also embraces the totality of the Divinity. When we think of a person, we remember the name and we visualize their image. Equally, when we think of Jesus, we remember His Name and we visualize the image of God in Jesus. "For in Jesus the whole fullness of deity dwelled bodily." [Col. 1:19, 2:9]

So great is the Most Holy Name of Jesus that "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; in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [Phil 2:9-11]

Finally, the Most Holy Name of Jesus by not given to our Lord by man; it was given to the Incarnate Word by God Himself. [Lk. 1:31] Because the Name of Jesus is synonym to love and righteousness, many will be hated because of this Name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. [Mt. 10:22]

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"Little children, if you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him. See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him" [1 Jn. 2:29; 3:1-6]

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Gospel Reading...

"John the Baptist had given testimony to the priests and Levites who had been sent by the leaders of the Jews. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, 'Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him: but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.'

And John testified, 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.'" [Jn. 1:29-34]

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