THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS (Part I of II)
“His name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel before He was conceived in the womb.”
1. It is not difficult to meditate upon the Holy Name, or to use the Holy Name in prayer. More than any other name, perhaps alone among all proper names, it is appropriate to the One Who owned it. Usually the names of men are given at random; they mean nothing in themselves; a man who happens to be called John might just as well have been called Thomas or William; the mere name tells us nothing about him; it is a convenient means of distinguishing him from others, a label put upon him and little or no more. With a few human beings it has been otherwise : Adam, Abraham, Josue [Joshua], John the Baptist were given names that signified the men on whom they were bestowed. But with none is this so true as it is with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. With care the Angel impressed it on His Mother’s mind: “Thou shalt call His name Jesus,” he said, and there followed the description of His future greatness. With care it was repeated to Joseph: Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
2. The Name stands as a complete summary and description of our Lord’s character and office, and it is under this aspect that it has been regarded by thousands of saints, whose hearts have melted at its mere sound. To them Jesus is their God, Jesus is their King, Jesus is their Redeemer, Jesus is their Mediator, Jesus is their Saviour, Jesus is their great Priest, Jesus is their Intercessor, Jesus is the Captain under Whom they fight, Jesus is the Leader Whom they follow, Jesus is their Teacher, Jesus is the Giver of their law, Jesus is the Spouse and Shepherd of their souls, Jesus is their Light, Jesus is their Life, Jesus is the Judge before Whom they rejoice to think that they must one day stand, Jesus is their final and eternal Reward, for which alone they live.
3. But He is also to them the mirror of all the most glorious and winning virtues. He is, and His Name tells them that He is, unbounded Charity, infinite Mercy, extremest Kindness, deepest Humility, most devoted Piety, transparent Simplicity, uttermost Poverty, Chastity without a stain. It is the prerogative of love to transform those who love into the likeness of Him Whom they love; and as the mere name of one who is loved cannot sound in the ear or be thought of in the mind without adding to the love which is already there, so the thought of the Holy Name and the mention of the Holy Name have a kind of sacramental power in the hearts of His saints. They seem to convey the grace which enables men to think like Him, to speak like Him, to act like Him, to sacrifice themselves like Him, and to Him, and for Him, and along with Him, to make Him known to others, not by word only, but also by reproduction of Him in themselves, and to win all men to love Him.
Summary Meditation Points
- Unlike other names, the Holy Name of Jesus both designates Him to whom it is given, and is a summary description of His life and character.
- Then to the saints it is an ever-sufficient subject of contemplation, spreading its rays of meaning out as from a central sun.
- And it is an all-sufficient source of inspiration to a perfect life, seeing that Jesus is what He is, and love of Jesus makes us like to Him, and the name of Jesus fosters this love.
Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).