The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was celebrated on January 3rd of 2015. For most people this feast day came and went without much fanfare or celebration. I suppose that is normal since it was so close to the solemnities of Jesus’ Nativity, Mary’s Motherhood, and Epiphany. But we as Christians should take a few moments to contemplate the importance of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Remember that Jesus and His family were faithful Jews. They observed all the feasts and traditions of the Jewish faith. One tradition is circumcision. Eight days after a boy is born to Jewish parents they have the boy circumcised. On the eighth day the boy receives his name as well. Remember in Luke’s Gospel account the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to name her son Jesus. So on the day of His circumcision Jesus received His Holy Name. That is why we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name eight days after The Nativity.
So what is so important about the name Jesus? The name Jesus comes from the Greek Iesous which was derived from the Aramaic (the language that Jesus would have spoken), Yeshu. Yeshu means Yahweh is Salvation. So really there is great meaning in the name of Jesus. Jesus’ name literally means God is Salvation. Jesus is the means to salvation.
Jesus’ name is very important and we should give due honor and respect to it. We give honor to the Name of Jesus, not because we believe that there is any intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer.
So how can we give due honor and respect to Jesus’ Holy Name? First we must be careful of our language and not take the Lord’s Name in vain. When we take the Lord’s name in vain we are forgetting all the great things that Jesus does for us. We reduce Jesus’ Holy Name to a curse word. Obviously Jesus’ name is not meant to be spoken in this way. Jesus deserves our utmost respect, and reverence. Another pious practice that has fallen out of favor over the years is the practice of bowing one’s head when we hear the name of Jesus. I think this is too bad. While it is not required that someone bows their head at the name of Jesus I think it is a good practice to get into. It shows reverence for the Holy Name and it is a good reminder of all the great things that Jesus does for us.
It is obviously important that we as a parish community continue to grow in love of God. One way we can do this is by honoring the Holy Name of Jesus. We must never shy away from giving due honor to God who has given us so much.
Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. Amen.
Author: Father Ross Parker