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By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the Bible, to name someone conferred a special relationship of identification and purpose. When we pray and live our lives in the name of Jesus, we stand in that privileged relationship and have a special place in His mission. There is no place more secure, precious, powerful or profound

That beautiful name, Jesus, which means God saves His People, was given to Him as a child by Mary and Joseph - at the instruction of the Angel, the messenger of God. It speaks to us of the identity of Jesus, His relationship to the Father and His saving mission in our midst. The privilege we have of using that name speaks of our relationship to Him - and through Him to the Father, in the Spirit. It also defines our mission, to live our lives now in Him, for the sake of the world.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: name of jesus, Evangelizing, prayer, preaching, power of God, evangelization, Catholic spirituality, healing, promises of God, the Yes of God, Bible, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Today, we commemorate the Feast of Most Holy Name of Jesus in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In fact, the entire month is dedicated to contemplating that name which is above every other name. In the letter which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians we read of Jesus:

God highly exalted him and gave him the name  that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess  that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:1-11)

That beautiful name, Jesus, which means God saves His People, was given to Him as a child by Mary and Joseph - at the instruction of the Angel, the messenger of God. It speaks to us of the identity of Jesus, His relationship to the Father and His saving mission in our midst. The privilege we have of using that name speaks of our relationship to Him - and through Him to the Father, in the Spirit. It also defines our mission, to live our lives now in Him, for the sake of the world.

In the Bible, to name someone conferred a special relationship of identification and purpose. When we pray and live our lives in the name of Jesus, we stand in that privileged relationship and have a special place in His mission. There is no place more secure, precious, powerful or profound. We live our lives now in Him, by living in His Body, the Church, of which we are members through Baptism.

He lives His life now in us, and continues His saving mission through us. This relationship is at the heart of the Church. He is identified with us and we are identified with Him, at the name of Jesus all of life can be transformed. 

In the name of Jesus all the promises of God find their fulfillment and response. He is the answer to every human question, the fulfillment of every authentic human need, the balm of healing for every human wound, the satisfaction of every authentic human desire, and the way to authentic human freedom and flourishing.

There is another beautiful passage in St Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, Brothers and sisters: As God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not yes and no, but yes has been in him.

For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory. But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
(2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

As a Deacon of the Catholic Church I live my life going from the ambo to the altar and into the streets - into a world filled with disappointment and pain. In those streets - and in that world - I have the privilege of giving to others what has been freely given to me, the great gift of God, His Yes in and through the name of Jesus.

Jesus is the One in whom all the promises of God find their fulfillment and response. He is the answer to every human question, the fulfillment of every authentic human need, the balm of healing for every human wound, the satisfaction of every authentic human desire, and the way to authentic human freedom and flourishing.

One of the obstacles I find in giving Him to others is a wall that is so often built around human hearts and minds. There are many misconceptions about religious faith. In ministry, one finds oneself not being asked to actually respond to someone's heartfelt hunger for God, but rather, being subjected to automatic replay messages from the past.

The word Gospel literally means Good News. There is Good News! God has revealed Himself to us. He is not hidden. The word revelation literally means to unveil, to make known. This is what occurred, is occurring, and will occur in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Self-Revelation of God.We who bear His name are called to proclaim the Good news and unveil the meaning of who Jesus is for all men and women.

This God who fashioned the Universe is not simply a principle to be reflected upon, leading us to a set of propositions. He has been manifested, unveiled to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is in receiving this Divine Self-manifestation, hearing this Yes and believing, that we find the very meaning of our own lives as we enter into the lifestyle of living faith.

As a young man, I began the practice of law, a profession that provided a backdrop for decades of my life. I was an assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Steubenville Ohio. The Chief prosecutor, my boss was a truly good man, in search of life's deeper meaning. He was also a non-practicing Jew who had lost touch with the great faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, his upbringing had planted a hunger for God in him.

There was no pretense in this man. He was often misunderstood by others. His professional competence, though quite effective, led to his developing an external air that others often misread as haughty. I knew better. One morning, right before I was to appear in Court, I walked in on my friend in a sad and vulnerable moment.

Circumstances in his personal life had left him with no more wind in his sails. He was depressed and groping for a rudder. I empathized with Him and listened as he unpacked his pain. At the end of this precious moment, this meeting of persons, he looked right into my eyes and shared words that I will never forget:

Keith, if I were ever to believe as you do, God would have to become a human being, a person, as real as you are sitting in front of me. I responded, He has done just that my friend. I then proceeded to share with him God's Yes, found in Jesus Christ. That experience deepened my lifelong passion to be able to give God's Yes to others, in the name of Jesus.

That is what St. Paul is saying in the passage I mentioned above. He was addressing very real people in the church at Corinth. People like you and me. They were struggling to keep their faith alive in a culture that militated against its claims. Sound familiar? They were also at odds with one another in a nascent Christian community beset with discord.

He kept his message wonderfully simple, reminding them that in the name of Jesus they could find the Father's Yes to the deepest longing of their hearts. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. (John 3:16) In and through Jesus Christ, they were now invited into a holy exchange, to give themselves back to God. In so doing, they became the bearers of the Gospel for others. That was the message that I shared with my friend. That is our message to the world of our own age.

This holy exchange, where God gives Himself to us and we reciprocate by giving ourselves to Him, forms the foundation of all of the wonderful letters of St. Paul. He understood it well because he lived it. That's right; He lived in the Yes, the holy exchange. He was being transformed in its fire of love. In the name of Jesus we hear and see the Yes of God to our deepest human need and aspiration. Our Yes in response to His Yes, can lead us into a dynamic new way of living as well.

There is a beautiful sermon on the name of Jesus given by a Franciscan friar and priest of the 14th and 15th century named St. Bernadine of Sienna. I offer an excerpt below:

*****

The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers
St. Bernadine of Sienna.

The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard. And how do you think such an immense, sudden and dazzling light of faith came into the world, if not because Jesus was preached? Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savor of this name that God called us into his marvelous light? When we have been enlightened, and in that same light behold the light of heaven, rightly may the apostle Paul say to us: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.

So this name must be proclaimed, that it may shine out and never be suppressed. But it must not be preached by someone with sullied mind or unclean lips, but stored up and poured out from a chosen vessel. That is why our Lord said of Saint Paul: He is a chosen instrument of mine, the vessel of my choice, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel. In this chosen vessel there was to be a drink more pleasing than earth ever knew, offered to all mankind for a price they could pay, so that they would be drawn to taste of it. Poured into other chosen vessels, it would grow and radiate splendor. For our Lord said: He is to Carry my name.

When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul's voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.

By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the name of Jesus at all times, but never more than when bearing witness to his faith. Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry wherever he journeyed: The night is passing away, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves honorably as in the day. Paul himself showed forth the burning and shining light set upon a candlestick, everywhere proclaiming Jesus, and him crucified.

And so the Church, the bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony, rejoices with the psalmist, singing: 0 God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says: Sing to the Lord, and bless his name, proclaim his salvation day after day. And this salvation is Jesus, her savior.

---


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