Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus – 3 January
Holy Mother Church reveals to us the greatness of His name. It was on the occasion of the rite of Circumcision that a name was given to children among Jews, eight days after birth. So the Church uses the same Gospel as that of the Feast of the Circumcision and dwells on the second part which tells us that “the Child was called Jesus” (Gospel), “as God had bid that He should be called” (Collect). This name means Saviour, for “there is no other name given to men whereby we must be saved” (Epistle).
The name Jesus comes from the Greek Iesous which was derived from the Aramaic, Yeshu. It means “Yaweh is salvation.” The name was not unique, even in biblical times, and today it is common in Arabic-speaking East and in Spanish-speaking countries. From apostolic times the name has been treated with the greatest respect, as honour is due the name which represents Our Lord, Himself.
Our Lord Himself solemnly promises that whatever we ask the Father in His Name, we shall receive. God never fails to keep His word. When, therefore, we say, “Jesus,” let us ask God for all we need with absolute confidence of being heard. For this reason, the Church ends her prayer with the words, “through Jesus Christ,” which gives the prayer a new and Divine efficacy. But the Holy Name is something still greater.
Each time we say, “Jesus,” we give God infinite joy and glory, for we offer Him all the infinite merits of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. St Paul tells us, that Jesus merited the Name Jesus by His Passion and Death. “The Holy Name of Jesus is, first of all, an all-powerful prayer. Our Lord Himself solemnly promises, that whatever we ask the Father in His Name, we shall receive. God never fails to keep His word. Each time we say “Jesus,” it is an act of perfect love, for, we offer to God, the infinite love of Jesus”…St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
The Holy Name of Jesus saves us from innumerable evils and delivers us especially from the power of the devil, who is constantly seeking to do us harm. The Holy Name of Jesus gradually fills our souls with a peace and joy we never had before. The Holy Name of Jesus gives us strength that our sufferings become light and easy to bear.
Anyone who is finding it hard to pray, or experiencing the ”desert” in their lives, can benefit from simply praying the Holy Name of Jesus. The loving invocation of the Holy Name can also be an effective way to make reparation to Our Blessed Lord for the atmosphere of blasphemy and irreligion which prevails generally today and remember, that although now fallen into obscurity in many countries, Catholics always bow their heads at the name of Jesus!
The origin of this feast is traced to the sixteenth century, when it was celebrated by the Franciscan Order. The devotion developed through the construction of special altars dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. St Bernadine of Siena OFM (1380-1444) painted a wooden tablet with the Monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus – IHS – surrounded by the rays of the sun to help spread the devotion far and wide.
In 1721 the Church, under the rule of Pope Innocent XIII, made the keeping of this solemnity universal. It is the central feast of all the mysteries of Christ the Redeemer, it unites all the other feasts of the Lord, as a burning glass focuses the rays of the sun in one point, to show what Jesus is to us, what He has done, is doing and will do for mankind. Such joy Catholics are given, with this feast celebrated for an entire month – thus enabling constant reinforcement and reminders of our devotion.
The Office and the Mass composed by Bernardine dei Busti (died 1500) were approved by Sixtus IV. The feast was officially granted to the Franciscans on 25 February 1530 and spread over a great part of the Church. The Office used at present is nearly identical with the Office of Bernardine dei Busti. The hymns “Jesu dulcis memoria,” “Jesu Rex admirabilis,” “Jesu decus angelicum,” are ascribed to St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor of the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us
”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 praises but holds fast to the Word and ”brings forth fruit with patience” (Luke 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” (CCC 2668).
Last year I posted the little booklet “The Wonders of the Holy Name by Fr Paul O’Sullican. You open the category “The Holy Name” and the posts will be there. I think there were 14 posts in total, so it will take you a few days to go through them.
Last year’s post for this Feast Day is here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/3-january-feast-of-the-most-holy-name-of-jesus/