Today, the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the Holy Name of Jesus. As per other notable feast days and church commemorations, Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875) reflected on the riches of this day, writing:
In the Old Covenant the Name of God inspired fear and awe: nor was the honour of pronouncing it granted to all the children of Israel. We can understand this. God had not yet come down from Heaven to live on Earth and converse with men. He had not yet taken upon Himself our poor nature and become man like ourselves. The sweet Name, expressive of love and tenderness, the Name given by the Spouse to her Beloved, could not be applied to Him.
But when the fullness of time had come — when the mystery of love was about to be revealed — then did Heaven send down the Name of “Jesus” to our Earth as a pledge of the speedy coming of Him who was to bear it. The Archangel Gabriel said to Mary: “You will call his Name Jesus.” Jesus means Saviour. How sweet will this Name not be to poor lost man! It seems to link Earth to Heaven! No name is so amiable, none is so powerful. Every knee in Heaven, on Earth and in Hell bows in adoration at hearing this Name! And yet, who can pronounce it and not feel love spring up within his heart? But we need such a Saint as Bernard to tell us of the power and sweetness of this blessed Name. He thus speaks of it in one of his Sermons:
“The Nature of Jesus is Light, and Food, and Medicine. It is Light when it is preached to us. It is Food when we think upon it. It is the Medicine that soothes our pains when we invoke it. Let us say a word on each of these. Tell me, whence came there into the whole world, so bright and sudden a light, if not from the preaching of the Name of Jesus? Was it not by the light of this Name that God called us to His admirable Light? Wherewith being enlightened, and in this light, seeing the Light, we take these words of Paul as truly addressed to ourselves: ‘Heretofore you were darkness, but now light in the Lord’ (Ephesians v. 8). Nor is the Name of Jesus Light only. It is also Food. Are you not strengthened as often as you think of this Name? What is there that so feeds the mind of him that meditates upon this Name? What is there that so restores the wearied faculties, strengthens virtue, gives vigour to good and holy habits, and fosters chastity? Every food of the soul is dry that is not steeped in this unction. It is insipid, if it be not seasoned with this salt. If you write, I relish not your writing unless I read there the Name of Jesus. If you teach me, or converse with me, I relish not your words, unless I hear you say the Name of Jesus. Jesus is honey to the mouth, and music to the ear, and gladness to the heart.
It is also Medicine. Is any one among you sad? Let but Jesus come into his heart and the mouth echo him, saying Jesus! and lo! the light of that Name disperses every cloud and brings sunshine back again. Have any of you committed sin? and is despair driving you into the snare of death? Invoke the Name of life, and life will come back to the soul. Was there ever a man, that hearing this saving Name could keep up that common fault of hardness of heart, or drowsiness of sluggishness, or rancour of soul, or languor of sloth? If anyone, perchance, felt that the fountain of his tears was dry, did it not gush forth more plentifully than ever, and flow more sweetly than ever, as soon as he invoked the Name of Jesus? If any of us were ever in danger and our heart beat with fear, did not this Name of power bring us confidence and courage the moment we pronounced it? When we were tossed to and fro by perplexing doubts, did not the evidence of what was right burst on us as we called upon the Name of light? When we were discouraged and well near crushed by adversity, did not our heart take courage when our tongue uttered the Name of help? All this is most true, for all these miseries are the sicknesses and faintings of our souls, and the Name of Jesus is our Medicine.
But let us see how all this comes to pass. ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble,’ says the Lord. ‘I will deliver you, and you will glorify me’ (Psalm xlix. 15). There is nothing which so restrains the impulse of anger, calms the swelling of pride, heals the wound of envy, represses the insatability of luxury, smothers the flame of lust, quenches the thirst of avarice and dispels the fever of uncleanliness, as the Name of Jesus. For when I pronounce this Name, I bring before my mind the Man who, by excellence, is meek and humble of heart, benign, sober, chaste, merciful and filled with everything that is good and holy, nay, who is the very God Almighty — whose example heals me, and whose assistance strengthens me. I say all this, when I say Jesus. Here have I my model, for He is Man; and my help, for He is God; the one provides me with precious drugs, the other gives them efficacy; and from the two I make a potion such as no physician knows how to make.
Here is the electuary my soul, hid in the casket of this Name Jesus. Believe me, it is wholesome and good for every ailment you can possibly have. Ever have it with you in your bosom and in your hand, so that all your affections and actions may be directed to Jesus.”
This is the sweet and powerful Name which was given to our Emmanuel on the day of His Circumcision. But, as that day was the Octave of Christmas and was already sacred to the Maternity of Mary, the present Sunday, the Second after the Epiphany, was chosen for celebrating the mystery of the Name of the Lamb. The first promoter of the Feast was Saint Bernardine of Siena who lived in the fifteenth century. This holy man established the practice of representing the Holy Name of Jesus surrounded with rays, and formed into a monogram of its three first letters, IHS. The custom spread rapidly through Italy and was zealously propagated by the great Saint John of Capistrano who, like Saint Bernardine of Siena, was of the Order of Friars Minors. The Holy See gave its formal approbation to this manner of honouring the Name of our Saviour and, in the early part of the sixteenth century. Pope Clement VI, after long entreaties, granted to the whole Franciscan Order the privilege of keeping a special Feast in honour of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Rome extended the same favour to various Churches, and at length the Feast was inserted in the universal Calendar. It was in the year 1721, at the request of Charles VI, Emperor of Germany, that Pope Innocent XII decreed that the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus should be kept throughout the whole Church. He also chose the Second Sunday after the Epiphany as the day. We have already explained how appropriately their respective mysteries have been thus blended into the one solemnity.
Note: in the General Roman Calendar of 1962 the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated on the Sunday between the Octave of Christmas and the Epiphany or, if there is none, the 2nd of January.
Epistle – Acts iv. 8‒12
In those days Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said “you princes of the people and ancients, hear: if we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he has been made whole, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God has raised from the, dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone-which was rejected by you the builders; which has become the head of the corner; neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Thanks be to God.
Dom Prosper Guéranger:
Oh how true is this, dear Jesus! No other Name but yours could give us salvation, and your Name means Saviour. Be praised for having taken such a Name! Be praised for having saved us! The admirable alliance which you reveal to us in the mysterious Feast at Cana is all expressed in your most sweet and holy Name. You are of Heaven heavenly, and yet you take a Name of Earth, and one which our mortal lips can say. You have truly made an alliance between the two natures, the Divine and the Human, and your Name imports this mystery of thine Incarnation. Oh make us worthy of the sublime alliance to which you have hereby raised us, and never permit us to break it.
Gospel – Luke ii. 21
At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised; his name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Praise be to you, O Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger:
It is during the first shedding of your Blood by the Circumcision that you received this Name of Jesus, dear Lord! And it was fitting that it should be so, for this Name signifies Saviour, and we could not be saved but by your Blood. The glorious alliance you have contracted with us is, one day, to cost you your Blood! The nuptial ring you put on our finger is to be steeped in your Blood! Our immortal life is to be purchased at the price of your Death! All these truths are expressed to us by your Name, Jesus! Saviour! You are the Vine, and you invite us to drink of your delicious Wine, but the heavenly Fruit must be first unsparingly pressed in the wine-press of your Eternal Father’s justice. We cannot drink of its juice until it will have been torn from the branch and bruised for our sakes. May your sacred Name ever remind us of this sublime Mystery, and may the remembrance keep us from sin and make us always faithful. source
That is beautiful.
May you have a good day.
~Image: IHS, the monogram of the name of Jesus; history of devotion to the Holy Name: here.