Friday, 4 January 2013

3rd January 2013 - The Most Holy Name of Jesus

In the Franciscan calendar of special community observances, the tenth day of Christmas is the day dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus. "At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow". In the old Sarum Calendar this observance was made on 7th August, but was not universally kept in the Latin Roman Church. It links back to the story from Luke's Gospel of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus traditionally commemorated on January 1st, but goes further in recalling the way Scripture states that "whoseover calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

God's name represents both God's power and presence. To call upon God's name is to enter into a personal relationship with Him and draws us above and beyond ourselves. To call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our saviour is a way of expression our loving devotion to God through Jesus.

As contemplative prayer developed in the primitive monastic communities of the second and third centuries of the Christian era, calling upon the name of Jesus in humility and simplicity of heart was discovered to be the best way to 'pray without ceasing' as St Paul had recommended. Saint Benedict, father of Western Monasticism urged his followers to give priority to making their prayers 'brief and pure'. 

This way of prayer was at the heart of Franciscan religious life and mission a thousand years later, when friars went all over Europe, preaching the Gospel, using words only when strictly necessary. They taught the people they evangelised to pray using the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

Although the Eastern Churches have no equivalent commemoration, contemplative prayer, called 'the prayer of quiet', invoking the Most Holy Name of Jesus, is at the core of their spiritual tradition for all baptized Christians not just those inspired by the witness of monasticism.

The name of Jesus is a complete reminder of his story, his teachings, all that He has done for us and what it means for our lives. When we can't properly express ourselves in words of prayer we can rest assured that the name of the Word of life given for us God with us in the Name of Jesus will hold us close to Himself, and never let go of us.

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