This homily was given at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Cottage Grove, OR on the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, January 2, 2023.
“Hear, O Israel: the LORD is your God; the LORD is one!”
This prayer, called the Shema, is the essential prayer of the Old Testament.
It set the Israelites apart from all the other peoples of the ancient world.
Unlike the other nations, Israel had one God, who revealed himself to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua and the prophets.
But the name of this God was wrapped in mystery.
When Moses asked his name at the burning bush, he replied, “I am who am.”
Only in the Incarnation are the name and the face of God revealed.
And the name of this Child-God is the fulfillment of Israel’s faith.
Gabriel says to Mary, “You shall call him Jesus.”
And this holy name means “God saves.”
God not only saved and delivered his people in the past; he will not only come to save them in the future; here and now, God is saving his people.
And here and now, at this Holy Mass, we are caught up in that saving work.
Today, call upon the holy name of Jesus, that name which many Hebrew generations longed to hear, but which has been revealed to us.
At the name of Jesus, every knee must bow; every spirit is taken captive; the wounded are healed; strongholds are broken, hopeless situations are resolved.
Call upon the holy name, then, for whenever our lips pronounce his sweet name, God comes with power and might to save us and set us free.
And on the last day, we who have pronounced his name on earth will hear him say our names in heaven: “Come, you beloved of my Father, enter into your Master’s joy.”