The Most Holy Name

Holy NameWhat does the Lord Jesus Himself say about His own Name?

In John 16:23 Jesus reveals His unity with the Father and the power of His Name saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.”  In Mark 9:38-39 we read an exchange between the beloved disciple and the Lord: “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.’”  The Gospel of John says that, “these [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (20:31).  His Name – His Person – is our path to everlasting life.  Signs and wonders are connected with Jesus’ Holy Name.  The Apostles and disciples worked many miracles through the Name of Jesus (cf. Acts 2:38; 3:6; 3:16; 4:7-10; 4:29-31; 19:13-17).   The Apostle Paul wrote to his flocks about the Name of Jesus. What he taught reveals a fundamental aspect of God’s will for us His images.

God focuses in the First Commandment of the Decalogue on what we might do wrong with our hands (Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image…”) and in the Second on what we might do wrong with our words (Exodus 20:7: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”).

St.  Paul wrote: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 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” (Philippians 2:9-11).  The Name of God, of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit, is worthy of our fear and our love.

Consider the Holy Name of Jesus.

Keep in mind not only love for the Name but also the fear which is Its due.  Do not exclude the fear which is really reverential awe.

In Scripture forms of words for “fear” occur hundreds and hundreds of times.  This a healthy loving fear.  Scripture is imbued with loving fear of God, indeed, an awe leading to love.  Consider, for example, this passage the Book of Revelation which can teach us timor:  “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.   His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself.  He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” (Rev 19:11)   But in the book of Malachi, speaking of the Name of God, we read, “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

God’s Holy Name is sacred.

“God fearing” men and women need not have terror of the Lord, but speaking and hearing His Holy Name will warm them with His fearful love.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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7 Responses to The Most Holy Name

  1. pannw says:

    Wow…thank you, Father Z. I wish I had this earlier to copy and send to a Protestant preacher, former military chaplain, who sends out email alerts on all things related to government persecution of Christians. The email said a number of times that evangelical chaplains were being persecuted for ‘praying in Jesus’ name’ and in it, he made several comments about Catholic chaplains, as if they do not ‘pray in Jesus’ name’ also. I did reply to the email, but this would have been a wonderful ‘argument’.

    I appreciate your blog so much and can’t thank you enough for all the lessons on the beauty of our Faith. You are a blessing to me, and I say that as one who is very blessed with a wonderful priest of my own. I can only imagine the blessing you bring to those who are not so fortunate to have a faithful one of their very own. May God bless you and continue to guide you in your mission here.

  2. lmgilbert says:

    Father, available through Amazon is a wonderful little book by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P. called The Wonders of the Holy Name. In it he suggests various ways in which to tap into the power of The Name. Having explored this a little bit, all I can do is give it the highest praise an American knows how to offer : “It works.”

    The theological foundation for this is found in one sentence in the middle of Catholic Catechism 2666, certainly one of the most astounding sentences man has ever composed, not far behind”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” or “This is my body.” That sentence is, “His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies.” All of CCC 2666 given below for context, but think about that one incredible sentence for a minute. Does it not mean that the name of Jesus is a kind of virtual Eucharist? Surely it fully explains the power of that name in the mouths of the Apostles and miracle workers down the ages. Does it not mean that reverently invoking the Name of Jesus makes Him present? It is this Presence that changes the situation into which He has been summoned.

    It seems we need to explore this a little bit, we Catholics who feel ourselves to be “on the ropes.”

    2666 But 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.” 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.

  3. Vecchio di Londra says:

    The point of this Feast – the need to speak and to constantly invoke the saving, healing, heaven-bestowed Holy Name of Jesus our Saviour – is beautifully and pithily expressed in the EF/old liturgy: in the Introit, the Pauline imperative to genuflect before the Holy Name; in the Epistle in which St Peter explains that miracles are being done and will be done by invoking the Name of Jesus; and in the Gospel in which the naming of the Infant at Circumcision follows the instruction of God’s Angel at the Annunciation.
    This was the feast we kept here in the EF Mass on 2nd Jan, and it will again be the Proper for this Sunday’s Mass.

    By contrast, at the same Feast in the NO (held on Friday, the following day) the readings seemed surprisingly irrelevant to the point of the Feast. John’s First Epistle Chap. 2 is an eloquent instruction on the need to imitate Christ in love, but the excerpt chosen has nothing to say about the power of His Holy Name itself. Psalm 97 in praise of ‘the salvation of our God’ is (unlike several other psalms that might have been more appropriately chosen) silent on the importance of the Name of God or the holy fear of God, and could be read on almost any feast. And the NO Gospel describes John the Baptist’s recognition of Christ as the Anointed One, baptised with the Holy Spirit.

    These would all be very appropriate readings if the intention of the feast was simply to make us understand that Jesus Christ is the Saviour. But they do not address the special, salutary and even miraculous importance and above all the essential need to venerate and invoke (‘semper et ubique’) the Holy Name of Jesus in prayer. Apart from the opening scene-setting phrase of the Gospel, ‘Seeing Jesus coming towards him’, these NO readings make no mention of the Name of Jesus, and are completely silent on the subject of venerating His Name, which in a Feast of the Holy Name seems rather a glaring omission.

    As so often during any ecclesiastical year, one wonders what Pope Paul’s commission may have thought this Feast was about. Was it more important to them to jettison the accustomed traditional propers, rather than replace them adequately?

  4. Priam1184 says:

    Thank you very much Father. A great reminder of something that we all too often forget.

  5. Pingback: On the EF Calendar: Today We Celebrate the Most Holy Name of Jesus - Catholic Christmastide ExtraOrdinaryForm - #tRCot Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Latin Mass Calendar - AlwaysCatholic.com

  6. Mike says:

    The concept of name has from time immemorial been entwined with the veracity, the reliability (thus: the “good name”) of the one named. When I misuse the name of God or the Holy Name of Jesus, I, like Pilate, implicitly call into question the reliability of Truth Itself.