Dear Friends in Christ,
January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. Names are very important. They identify us; we even sometimes dislike our official name as we did not invent it for ourselves. We use nicknames for people. Aidan Chambers once said, “And when someone else speaks your name you feel pleased. You feel wanted. You feel there. Alive. Even if they’re saying your name with dislike, at least you know you’re you, that you exist.” “She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). This was the name from God revealed to Our Lady by the archangel Gabriel. Jesus’ very name identifies Who He is to us and why we just celebrated the holy season of Christmas. We must speak the name of the Lord with love and avoid at all costs using His name in vain or using it carelessly is very unacceptable and sinful. As we are not using it on purpose (hopefully), it would not be a mortal sin, but carelessness is a venial sin. Many years ago I taught at Camden Catholic High School and a girl was constantly saying “Jesus” and “Lord” under her breath. It was not only annoying, but was offensive. So I began to use her name as way to express displeasure. I would whine out, “Debbie.” She asked me what I wanted and I informed her nothing, I just used her name to express my feelings at the moment. The class began to use it. I thought, “Uh, oh…this is getting out of hand.” I forbade the class to use her name, but I to the opportunity to explain how Our Lord must see it when we call upon Him not with prayer and love, but rather, His blessed name is used as an object or mere expression. Let us commit ourselves to use the Lord’s various names with reverence, love and prayer. This fulfills His commandment and as Saint Paul says, “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
May His Name be praised,