Power of the Holy Name

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/01/08 at 12:00 AM

• In the 12th and 13th centuries, there arose in southern France and parts of northern Italy a heresy of great vigor and violence known as the Albigensian Heresy.
• The Albigensians were dualists who believed that the material world, including our bodies, were evil, while the spiritual or non-material world, including our souls, were good.
• Because of this they advocated suicide, especially by starvation, as a means of freeing one’s soul from its evil body. They also eschewed marriage, and they didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus. As such, they were a menace to both Church and state.
• In fact, as the Albigensians grew in strength and in numbers, they worked zealously to subvert the teachings of Holy Mother Church, opposing her Sacraments and all of her teachings, in particular her belief in the Incarnation.
• For decades this heresy threatened the Church spiritually and materially, until in 1274 at the Council of Lyons, devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was encouraged.
• With the ferocity of their denial of the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, came a concomitant increase in blasphemy amongst the Albigensians.
• Thus the fathers of the Council of Lyons believed that faithful Catholics should be encouraged in their devotion of the Lord’s Holy Name as a means of making reparation for and combating the blasphemy of the Albigensians.
• And thus through the diligent efforts of the Dominicans in the 13th century and the Franciscans in the 14th and 15th centuries, especially St. Bernadine of Siena, devotion to our Lord’s Holy Name began to spread throughout Europe.
• And it must have worked, for how many Albigensians do you know?
• Now, centuries later, our liturgy and our churches are very commonly marked by this
important devotion to our Lord’s name. This is why it is customary to doff our birettas
and bow our heads whenever we hear the name of Jesus.
• This is why it is so common to find the Holy Monogram of our Lord’s Name inscribed in
churches, just as we have it here under our tabernacle and as I have it embroidered on
this chasuble.
• What must be understood about this devotion to the Holy Name is that we do not
reverence our Lord’s Holy Name because we think it to be a magical formula that drives
away evil and procures for us whatever we desire.
• Rather, when we speak the name of Jesus we are reminded of all the grace and mercy
we receive from Him – of all that He has done for us.
• Just as Catholics devoutly kiss the crucifix on Good Friday as a means of honoring our
Lord’s Passion and death, so too do we honor His Holy Name as a means of thanking
Jesus for His many blessings to us and acknowledging His omnipotence.
• Our reverence for our Lord’s Holy Name is a sign of our love for Him; it’s a sign of our
gratitude to Him for being our Redeemer; it’s a sign of our submission to Him.
• Of course while we know the Holy Name is not a magical incantation, there is power in
our Lord’s Name, and Sacred Scripture reveals to us this power.
• In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul teaches us that, because Jesus humbled Himself
and became obedient unto death, God the Father bestowed upon Him the name that is above every other name, and “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Phil 2:10-11.]
• In the Gospel of Mark Jesus tells His apostles before ascending into Heaven that, “These
signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” [Mk 16:17-18.]
• The Book of Acts gives us proof of this as the apostles healed the lame and even raised the dead by confidently invoking the Name of Jesus (cf. Acts 3:6, 9:34, 9:40).
• And so we see how confidently calling upon our Lord’s Holy Name can bring us help in our needs. Indeed, in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that, “whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you,”(Jn 16:23), which is why we commonly conclude our prayers with the words: “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
• The Church’s experience with spiritual warfare over the centuries has also taught us that the devil and his demons fear even the utterance of the name of Jesus, for they, like the angels that did not fall, know all too well how efficacious our Lord’s name is.
• Think of all the stories in Scripture in which the demons were powerless to disobey our Lord when He commanded them to leave a person whom they were tormenting.
• And so our Lord’s name, when uttered confidently and with His authority, still has the power today to deliver us from the snares of evil.
• So as we devoutly honor our Lord’s Holy Name today, let us not simply bow our heads in customary homage, but let us bow our hearts and minds as well to that infant who is both King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
• May we confidently and devoutly rely on our Lord’s power by having regular recourse to His Holy Name. And as we do, may we grow ever more in love with Him.
• May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever!

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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