Monday, January 2, 2017


Homily for January 3rd, 2017: The Holy Name of Jesus.

          We celebrate today the Holy Name of Jesus, a word which means “God saves. “The Catechism says: “To pray ‘Jesus’ is to invoke him and to call him within us.” The Catechism adds that the repetition of this name, as a prayer, is possible at all times, “because it is not one occupation among others, but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.” (Nos. 2666 & 2668).

Shortly after I entered seminary, 69 years ago, I resolved to pray the holy name of Jesus every time I went up or downstairs. I say “Jesus” at every step. This is my way of fulfilling St. Paul’s command to “pray always” (1 Thess. 5:17). It reminds me that I am always in the presence of God. The blessings which this brings are beautifully described in some hymn verses, written over 200 years ago in England.

     How sweet the name of Jesus sounds / in a believer’s ear!

     It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds / and drives away his fear.

     It makes the wounded spirit whole / And calms the troubled breast;

     ’Tis manna to the hungry soul / And to the weary rest.      

     Dear name, the rock on which I build / My shield and hiding-place,

     My never-failing treasure filled / with boundless stores of grace.

     Jesus, my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend, My Prophet, Priest, and King,

     My Lord, My Life, my Way, My End / Accept the praise I bring.

     Weak is the effort of my heart / And cold my warmest thought;

     But when I see thee as thou art, / I’ll praise thee as I ought.

     Till then I would thy love proclaim / with every fleeting breath;

     And may the music of thy name / Refresh my soul in death.

J.Newton, 1725-1807