At the Name of Jesus

Today is the (optional!?) memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. We live in times that seem to need this day to be something rather more than a mere optional memorial. Too often one hears Our Lord's most holy name being used as an epithet one applies to one's worst enemies or most despised traffic violations.

In part, I suppose, Christians have only themselves to blame, because one rarely sees even Christians showing anything like respect for the most holy name. How many still incline the head at the mere mention of that name at Mass? My wife and I do it, but my son seems embarrassed to be standing next to us, because no one else in the parish does it. (You can imagine his mortification when I was the only one to genuflect--as the rubrics require, I might add--on Christmas Eve at the phrase "by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man" during the Creed.)

Some names don't deserve any respect. Who would name their child "Britni" or "Scott"? But "Jesus" is an anglicized version of a name that means "God saves", and that is something that ought not to be fooled around with, any more than one would use the last remaining copy of the Magna Carta as a handkerchief. Some things are precious in certain ways, and there are proper and improper uses of them. Our Lord's Most Holy Name is one of those things.


dilexitprior said…
Our parish priest chose to do the mass for the Most Holy Name of Jesus for daily mass. I'm glad he did it. He spoke in the homily about how we should make acts of reparation when we hear others misusing the name of Jesus and have the courage to correct them.

From personal experience, my first year university roomate was horrible at using the Christ's name in vain and it really bothered me. When I pointed it out to her though she did make a conscious effort to change her speech which I really appreciated.
Apollodorus said…
I wonder how often that sort of thing leads people to change their behavior simply to avoid conflict, and whether that's really a sufficient goal. Surely it's better for people not to hurl Christ's name around as though it were somehow expressive of outrage or disgust. But if a person merely changes their behavior without changing their attitudes at all -- a lot seems to be missing. I admit that I am not immune to the, um, 'expressive' use of Christ's name. Even still, when I do find myself using it, it tends to be an uncomfortable affair -- and I am not a Christian in any sense that Christians would recognize. Even though I lack the faith, I have an honest respect for it that makes the use of 'Jesus,' 'Christ,' or the two together as an explitive seem absurd and inappropriate. I wonder whether leading people to that kind of respect -- short of leading them to conversion, of course, which isn't something that anybody can really 'do' themselves -- isn't a better goal than merely convincing someone not to annoy you.

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