Posted on January 1st, 2014
Eve of the Circumcision and Name of JESUS
December 31, 2013
God cannot be known merely through His attributes. To say that God is omnipotent, omniscient, or eternal tells us nothing about His disposition or intentions.
Even the sacred name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush tells us nothing about how He is minded. Yahweh – “I AM,” or, “He who is,” “the existing One” – still leaves us with distant abstractions.
In this Holy Child born of Mary, the sacred name revealed of old, Yahweh, is joined to another Hebrew word, shua. Shua means “saves.” The Name of this Holy Child is God’s sermon to the world, a sermon in two words: Yahweh Saves. That’s what JESUS means: “Yahweh Saves.”
Now we know something of God’s disposition, how He is minded toward us: He wants to save us. Save us from death and the grave, save us from misery and affliction, save us from our own sins and the damage they do to ourselves and others. St. Matthew in the Gospel for Christmas Eve explains why our Lord was given this name: He is called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures gave us many names and titles for our Savior: Immanuel (God is with us); Christ, Messiah, anointed one; King; Wonderful; Counselor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace. But of all the names and titles given to the Savior by prophecy, the Lord held back until His conception the NAME that is above every name, the Name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess: JESUS, Yawheh Saves, Jesus is LORD, Jesus is God in the flesh, the incarnate glory of the Heavenly Father.
He was given the name JESUS that you might also be named after Him.
For apart from this NAME, your name is inscribed in the book of the dead.
Your name is Pilate, for you vainly imagine you can wash your hands of your misdeeds and others will bear the blame.
Your name is Barabbas, for you continually take part in rebellion.
Your name is Judas, for you have betrayed your Lord and sought money above all.
Your name is Saul, for you have not waited or trusted in God.
Your name is Goliath, for enormous is your pride.
Your name is Jacob, for you have deceived others.
Your name is Abel, which means wind, vanity, for you have been struck down by the power of sin, and you go back to the dust. Meaningless, meaningless, all has now become meaningless for you.
Your name is Eve, for you have grasped according to your lusts.
Your name is Adam, for you heeded not the voice of God.
But for all of us sons of Adam, a Son is given. To us who bear unholy names of unclean parents, a new NAME is given. The Holy Name of JESUS, once written with a carpenter’s nail for a pen and blood for ink, the Holy Name of JESUS which the little infant born of Mary has is given to us.
A husband gives his name to his bride. So this Heavenly Bridegroom, who came to cleanse and sanctify a Church with the washing of water through the Word, this Heavenly Bridegroom pours out upon His Church His Name, giving us the rights and privileges of being in His holy family.
As this name is given to JESUS in the circumcision, so the holy Name is given to you in your Baptism. For what purpose? That you might use. The sacred name is given to you anew on this festival of the Name, for by it sins are forgiven and demons put to flight.
When you are frightened, call upon the name of JESUS. When you are oppressed by sickness, call upon the name of JESUS. When death draws near, call upon the name of JESUS. Speak the name in your home and on your travels, for by it the devil is driven away. He hates the name, and cannot abide this mighty sermon, “Yahweh saves.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “The name of Jesus is … a sovereign medicine. If there be anyone overwhelmed with sorrow, let Jesus come into his heart, and thence to his lips, and behold, at the rising light of this sacred name all darkness and clouds will be dispersed, peace and joy will return, and the serenity of his mind will be restored. If there be anyone stained with crime, and driven headlong by despair to the pit of destruction, let him call upon this life-giving name, and he will speedily be restored to hope and salvation.” Invoking this name brings help in every time of trouble.
Remember at all times, dear brothers and sisters, this Name. For it is God’s sermon to you in pride and despair, prosperity and adversity, God’s sermon to you whenever you trust in yourself or despair of any help. This name is God’s sermon to the world, and He does what the name says: Jesus, “Yahweh saves.”