Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church marks the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, just as we continue to progress through this Christmas season. On this day we recall the very Name of the Lord that He has been given and revealed to us through the Archangel Gabriel. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary, the Mother of the Lord that she would bear within her the Son of God Himself, and that this Son ought to be named Jesus. Through this Name, Jesus or roughly Yeshua in the old Hebrew and Aramaic, we come to know the Name of the Lord Himself, made approachable and utterable for us, so that by His coming into our midst, He might restore us all and renew us, just as He had done with His loving sacrifice on the Cross.

We may be wandering, why is it that we celebrate the Name of the Lord with a Feast like this day? A person’s name is very important, as first of all, it marks that we are building a genuine relationship with someone whose name is known to us and vice versa. While strangers and acquaintances are mostly not known to us by name, and most of us do not bother to know them by their names, knowing a person’s name is often the first step in the often long and complicated process of establishing relationship. Hence, as the Lord revealed His Name to us, it shows us that He is willing to come close to us and to know us personally, just as He has chosen to come down into this world, becoming Incarnate as the Son of Man. Thus just as we celebrate Christmas season, we should also spend more time reflecting on the mystery of God’s Incarnation, that He has become tangible and approachable by us, with a Name that we can call and speak of.

We also have to understand that in the past, among the first chosen people of God, the Israelites, the Holy Name of God was considered so sacred and holy that this Name cannot be mentioned or uttered at all. Hence, while His Name is usually written as the Tetragrammaton of YHVH, which leads to what is mentioned as Yahweh in some of our contemporary worship music, it cannot and should not be pronounced in any normal occasion, as this added on to the mystical nature of the Holy Name of God and meant to highlight just how infinitely great God is beyond our ability to fathom Him, just as in the Old Testament God is considered as being mighty and unapproachable by any of the mortal beings. It is in fact a taboo for anyone to utter or try to say the Name of the Lord, and only the High Priest was allowed to do so, and even only at a particular time in the year.

Therefore, the fact that the Lord has provided us with a Name that is approachable and utterable, Jesus, the Name that is above every other names as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians in our first reading today, revealed that He truly wants to make us to be able to approach Him, and for Him to be with us, and that God is no longer One Who is distant and infinitely beyond our reach. He has became one like us, assuming our humble human reality and existence, so that He truly becomes Emmanuel, God Who is with us. He is no longer a distant God Who reigns over His people with impunity and only punishes all who disobey Him. He has become God that is manifested and personified in all of His love for us, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through this same Name, we have been saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard again of the salvation which has come into our midst through Jesus Christ, that by His Name and His works, we have been reconciled with God. Through His Name, we have received the fullness of God’s grace and love, and we know of that God and Man united in the same person of Jesus, by Whom we have been redeemed from the precipice of destruction and death, because He obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly that He became for us all the source of hope and the assurance of eternal life. In the Name of Jesus, which we hang on to with faith and hope, we know that God is truly with us, knowing us and understanding us. He made Himself available and accessible to us so that we may reach out to Him as well, and turn towards Him with hope and confidence, that through Him there is path to light and eternal life.

Yet, at the same time we are also reminded that while we have received great graces and favour through the Name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, but we also must still not take the Name of the Lord in vain, even after He has made Himself approachable to us. It is one of the Ten Commandments that stated to us, ‘Keep holy the Name of the Lord’ or ‘Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain’. This same commandment and Law still applies to us, and we have to hold His Name with the highest regard. There had been quite a few instances when people have been misusing the Lord’s Name and treated His Name with disdain and utter disrespect, even using them with expletives and vulgarities among other things most unbecoming of our attitudes with regards to the Lord’s Holy Name. The sad thing is that even many of us Christians have done that as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed what St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today again as he spoke regarding the Holy Name of Jesus. The Name of the Lord is the Name above every other names, to which all knees shall bend, be it in Heaven, on earth, or below the earth, that is in hell and in the underworld. It means that this Name, while indeed approachable to us, is still the Most Holy Name of our Sovereign and Almighty God, to which the Angels and all of us ought to obey and bend our knee in worship, and even Satan in all of his power has no authority before the Name of the Lord, and had to bend his knee as well. After all, the Lord has a Universal dominion and authority, and even Satan has to obey Him. That is why, we must never (again) take the Lord’s Name in vain or disrespect Him in that manner.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to celebrate the joyful season and time of Christmas, let us all reflect carefully upon the role that our Saviour, Jesus Christ has in the history of our salvation that by His coming into this world which we celebrate at this Christmas season, He had made Himself approachable and tangible for us, to make God’s love within our reach, dwelling in our midst as God Who is always ever present among His people, Emmanuel. This Christmas we are reminded yet again that Christ has manifested Himself before us, and give us His Name as the assurance for a new hope and light that illuminates our path towards the future with Him. Let us not forget about Christ in our Christmas joy and festivities, and let us return Him to the rightful position at the heart of our every celebrations, and also enthrone Him within our hearts, always ever keeping His Holy Name with the utmost honour and respect.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we have been saved, be with us always, and may He continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith, so that we may continue to persevere in faith and do our very best to commit ourselves to a life fully dedicated to Him and worthy of His love and grace. Let us all invoke His Name from now on with faith, and strive to be ever more worthy of uttering His Name, at all times. May God bless us always, in all of our efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

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