Friday, 3 January 2020 : 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, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, recalling the words of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, the mother of Our Lord at the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary that her Son, Who would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, is the Son of God, and He would be known as Jesus, that according to St. Paul in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Philippians, is the Name above every other names.

That is why today we celebrate this special occasion in which we recall this important fact of how by this Name, this special Name of the Lord all of us have been saved. There is no other names by which we have received salvation and only at the Name of Our Lord Jesus, we have received Him Who is our Saviour and Liberator, the One Who freed us from bondage to sin and to the punishment of death.

And we will understand its significance better when we know how in the historical past, the Holy Name of God, written in the Hebrew Tetragrammaton as YHVH, often translated into Yahweh in the modern use of the English language, is a Name that is taboo and not to be uttered in any way, for the Holy Name of God is so holy that uttering the Name was a grave sin and breach of the Jewish traditions and laws, and even more so if the Name was used in vain.

That is why, based on this historical precedent, the Church has never used the Holy Name of God in the form of YHVH or Yahweh unlike what some others have adopted or used, and instead preferring to use the title ‘Lord’ to refer to God in the Biblical context whenever the Holy Name is invoked and recorded. But it is kind of different with the Name, ‘Jesus’ which we focus on today, as this Name is indeed the Name of God too, because we believe that Jesus, the Son of God, is God. But yet, unlike the name ‘YHVH’ mentioned earlier, the Name Jesus can be used.

Why is that so? That is because if we understand it more clearly, we can make the link with how God, Who was once invisible and beyond our ability to grasp and perceive, has chosen to make Himself apparent and available to us, appearing in the Flesh; in the form of Man, by the incarnation of the Divine Word, the Son, into the humanity that He united to His divinity, in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Since the beginning of time, God has given each and every one of us our identity, beginning with the naming of our first ancestors, Adam, who in turn named his wife, Eve. All mankind have been known by their names, and upon the birth of a baby, each and every one of them receive a name to distinguish themselves from one another. And just as how Adam named the animals and plants of the earth, we mankind also use names to identify objects and living things around us, in our own diverse languages.

Therefore, as Jesus was born as the Son of Man through His mother Mary, He also received this Name, Jesus, just like all of us have received our names. But what makes this Name so special and so far beyond any other names is the fundamental fact that Jesus is not just Man, but also fully God, incarnate in the Flesh. And that is why, if the name ‘YHVH’ was considered to be so holy and a grave taboo to be mentioned, the Name ‘Jesus’ is also holy and sacred.

That was why Pope Gregory X at the Second Council of Lyons in the year 1274 proclaimed that all Christians ought to bow reverently at the every mention of the Holy Name of Jesus, the Name special above all other names, the Name by which all of us have received our salvation and promise of eternal life, in accordance to what St. Paul had also written in his Epistle to the Philippians in our first reading today, that at the Name of Jesus, all knees shall bend, those on earth, in heaven and in the place below earth, that is hell and more.

Pope Gregory X mentioned this venerable practice and tradition of bowing at the Holy Name of Jesus which should be done reverently because if we can truly bend our heads to bow at the Name of Our Lord, inwardly this will indeed affect our hearts that will also bow and submit ourselves in humble obedience and love towards Him, for bowing is indeed a sign of humility, of love and of great respect and veneration, all of which we should give to God for the love He has shown to us all.

Unfortunately the sad reality is how few of the faithful practice this still mandatory and important practice of bowing at the Holy Name of Jesus, not to mention the related rule to also bow, although less profound, at the name of Mary, and also the saints on their feast days. Many among the priests and bishops themselves no longer practice this, and as a result, the respect once accorded to the Holy Name gradually became lost. We end up seeing how the Holy Name of Jesus was used in vain in many occasions, not just in secular use but even within the Church.

We make use of the Name of Jesus so lightly and at occasions when it is really inappropriate for us to mention His Name. Do we realise that in doing so we actually sin against God and cause even greater propagation of this lack of respect and adoration we ought to give God through His Holy Name? That is why we have this Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which had been instituted almost three hundred years ago in the year 1721 by Pope Innocent XIII. It is to remind us of the sanctity and the importance of the Holy Name of Jesus to us all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have God Who has made Himself tangible to us and accessible to us all, by extending His love to us dwelling among us in the Flesh. By His incarnation, all of us are now able to call Him by Name, just as we are also able to call Him Father, because of Christ, Who is our brother, sharing in the same Father as He is, and becoming God’s adopted sons and daughters.

Let us all reflect on this, brethren, and let us cultivate in us a new respect and honour for the Holy Name of Jesus from now on. Let us spread the venerable practice, that is still in fact mandatory, to bow at every mention of the Name of Jesus in the Mass, and stop any form of profane and inappropriate use of His Name from now on in all occasions. May the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Name, guide us to the love of God, our heavenly Father. Amen.

Friday, 3 January 2020 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day, the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Friday, 3 January 2020 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number, and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Friday, 3 January 2020 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 29 – 1 John 3 : 6

You know that He is the Just One : know then that anyone living justly is born of God. See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when He appears in His glory, we know that we shall be like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope try to be pure as He is pure. Anyone who commits a sin acts as an enemy of the law of God; any sin acts wickedly, because all sin is wickedness.

You know that He came to take away our sins, and that there is no sin in Him. Whoever remains in Him has no sin, whoever sins has not seen or known Him.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Philippians 2 : 1-11

If I may advise you, in the Name of Christ, and if you can hear it, as the voice of love; if we share the same Spirit, and are capable of mercy and compassion, then I beg of you, make me very happy : have one love, one spirit, one feeling, do nothing through rivalry or vain conceit.

On the contrary, let each of you gently consider the others, as more important than yourselves. Do not seek your own interest, but, rather, that of others. Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had :

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018 : 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, on this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Most Holy Name, Jesus Christ, the Name He was given before His conception in the womb of His mother Mary, revealed to her by the Archangel Gabriel. His was the Name above every other names, the one and only Name with the power to save all of us mankind.

There is no other name with this power, for His Name, Jesus Christ, is the Name of God, the Divine Word Incarnate revealed unto us. No man or Angel has this same power and authority, and for that reason, we have to keep in mind that we should not make use of the Lord’s Name in vain, or worse still, desecrate the sanctity of His Holy Name by misusing it or even misrepresent it before others.

In the past, according to the traditions of the Israelites, the Name of God was not to be uttered or mentioned, as His Name was so holy that it could not be uttered by mere men. But through Jesus Christ, not only that God has revealed His image and appearance to us in the flesh, but He also revealed to us the truth about His Name. That is the Name and the only Name on which all creatures of the Lord, upon hearing it, will bow down and kneel in homage.

Yes, indeed, even Satan, the great enemy of all of us the faithful, and the one who had wanted to seize God’s throne in his pride, had to submit to the Lord’s authority as the Master and Creator of all things. At the Name of Jesus Christ, Satan himself had to submit, and bend the knee to Him, paying homage in utter powerlessness and incapacitation, as much as surely he loathes doing so.

That is why, as we heard the words of the Scriptures, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Philippi, the Lord has exalted His Son, Jesus Christ, because of His humble and perfect obedience, having willingly accepted death, death on the cross for the sake of all of us mankind, by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our complete and total reconciliation with Him.

This act of ultimate and perfect love shows all of us just how great and loving Our God is. And it is for the same reason that we adore Him and worship Him, as Our Lord, Master, Creator and King. It is why the Church instructs us all to bow our heads at every mention of the Holy Name of Jesus in the celebration of the Holy Mass. This act reminds us that through that Name alone, we have been saved, and not by any other name.

Yet, it is truly sad to know that in reality, in our world today, many of us no longer respect and hold the Name of the Lord sacred as we should have done. We just utter His Name in vain, using it in all sorts of circumstances, many of which less than ideal. We even used His Name in vulgarities and coarse language. That is not how we should be using His Name. And indeed, we should be ashamed and embarrassed, if only we know that even Satan has to bend his knee at the mention of the Name of Our Lord and Saviour.

Not only that we do not bend our knee and humbly worship Him, but in fact we proudly refused to acknowledge Him as Our Lord and Saviour, and preferred to walk in our own path rather than to follow His commandments and ways. As a result, we have fallen further into sin, the same sin which brought down Satan, once a great and mighty Angel of the Lord, who because of his pride, rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven.

It is ironic that while even Satan has to acknowledge God as his Lord and Master, but many of us mankind refused to do so. Instead, we persisted in our pride and hubris, and in our wicked ways, while God Himself has been so kind and so loving, to the point that He willingly laid down His life for our sake. That is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us, and each and every one of us should acknowledge that, by honouring and glorifying the Holy Name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

It may be difficult and a weird experience for us to go through in the beginning, but believe me that, if we begin to appreciate the experience of bowing at every mention of the Holy Name of Jesus in the Mass, slowly but surely, if we do it with full understanding and awareness of how Jesus Our Lord has influenced our lives and how He has loved us greatly, we will grow to love the Lord all the more, and eventually, we will walk more and more faithfully in His ways.

That is the power that God’s Holy Name can have on us, and we have to realise this, brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pay our due respect to the Holy Name of Our Lord and Saviour, and spend time to reflect on how great is the love that God has given to each and every one of us. Let us all seek to love Him all the more, and devote ourselves to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day, the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number, and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.