For The Sake Of The Name
“The Name of God”: you will find this phrase repeated again and again in the Bible. In the New Testament, the expression “The Name of Jesus” often replaces it. “Jesus” means “The Lord is salvation.” That was the name chosen for Him by His Father.
St. Peter tells us why the name of Jesus is so important. “There is no other name in the whole world given to man by which we are to be saved.” (Acts, 4:2). St. Paul tells us of the need to honor this name of our Redeemer: “At Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth” (Phil.2:10).
Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus dates from the times of the Apostle, but it became widespread in the late middle ages. In 1274, Pope Gregory X prescribed that the faithful bow their heads at the mention of His name.
Probably the best known promoter of this devotion was the popular Franciscan preacher, St. Bernardine of Siena (1380?-1444). To revive reverence for the name of the Savior, he would lift up before his audience, at the end of each sermon, a wooden tablet painted with the letters “IHS” crowned by a cross, all in gold, and framed by a circle of gold rays and flames. “IHS” is the abbreviation of the Greek name of our Lord, “IHSOYS”. The tablet caught the imagination of Bernardine’s listeners. It made them all the more aware of the importance of Him who died to save them. It made them more respectful of the Holy Name and less ready to use it, or any other divine name, in vain.
Eventually the popes established a feast of the Holy Name. Our Holy Name Societies were also founded to promote honor to the name of Jesus.
In this Holy Year dedicated to the redemption Jesus achieved for us are we grateful enough to Him to be joyful to suffer in return “for the sake of the Name”? (Today’s second reading). Or, more practically, are we careful not to use any divine Name disrespectfully? Do we still bow our heads at Jesus’ name? If not, why not?
-Father Robert F. McNamara
Q264: Today’s readings show Peter as rather stubborn and impulsive, don’t they? He disobeys the Sanhedrin (Acts 5), and jumps out of the boat to see Jesus (Jn 21).
I am reminded of what Fr. Bill Grimm said several years ago, words to the effect that we are all called to be stubborn and impulsive, when the circumstances call for that kind of behavior. When we Catholics think of Peter, our first instinct is to think of him as “the first Pope.” However, lots of things came before that position of special leadership! As Fr. Grimm said, who else do you know who would jump into the water with your clothes on; who else did Jesus call a “Satan”; who else denied Jesus three times; who else was ambivalent about relations with Gentiles and had to be kicked in the butt by St. Paul; who else tried walking on water; who else takes action without thinking?
This is the one Jesus chose to lead his Church? Yes, and we are fortunate to see those characteristics in the pre-Pentecost Peter. He was willing to take action, even without thinking, when Jesus was involved. He didn’t wait until a theological treatise had been developed to weigh all the arguments for and against a situation; he simply acted! Of course, sometimes his haste resulted in correctable decisions, as he discovered through his colleague St. Paul.
But the overriding message is that the Easter faith is spread only by those who take action. If everyone were to “wait,” there wouldn’t be many conversions from pagan beliefs! Some would not hear the Good News at all. Baptism is our first “jump into the water” of missionary activity. It empowers us with Jesus’ own Spirit to take action, to spread the Good News; and we renew our baptismal promises every Easter. Ask yourself: “How have I been living out my Sacrament and the responsibilities that flow from discipleship?
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The Church – that’s you and me – is the seed for establishing the Kingdom of God; what have you been doing with your seed (CCC #768)? The presence of Christ continues in his disciples, his mystical body (CCC #788). Does the Body of Christ suffer because you are withholding the gifts from them that they need (CCC #791)? Am I willing to “get my feet wet” for the sake of the kingdom?
Do You Love Me?
Peter answered, “Lord, you know that I love you.” How does Jesus know? How do any of us know what it means when someone says, ” I love you.”? Liza Doolittle, in “My Fair Lady,” gives the answer: “Show me!” In “Fiddler on the Roof” when Tevye asks his wife, “Do you love me?” she answers “For twenty five years I have cooked your food, cleaned your house, washed your clothes, borne your children…if that’s not love what is?” Today’s readings are like that. Jesus knows that Peter and the other disciples love him because they show him. They bear public witness in the face of opposition and and persecution they accept martyrdom out of love for him. “If you love me” Jesus had said “keep my commandments.” Show me by loving other “as I have loved you.
Dear God, give us the strength to show our love not just in words but in deeds. Strengthen our faith in the risen Christ so that we may show our love in whatever comes day by day.