In the Extraordinary Form of the Calendar, this Sunday is not Epiphany Sunday, that solemnity will be celebrated on the correct date, January 6, thus uniting us with the Orthodox and millions of other Catholics and Christians elsewhere, but rather the "Most Holy Name of Jesus." I've never given a homily on this Solemnity. I'm celebrating it this afternoon for the first time ever at 2:00 PM with the EF High or Sung Mass. So I went looking for some resources on the internet to help me develop a homily for today and I found the following by Fr. Hathaway of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I may read this homily or use it in part for this afternoon's Mass, but of course giving credit where credit is due.
“His name was called Jesus.” By Fr. Hathaway, Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
We have begun a New Year. Make this New Year’s resolution: the daily resolution to grow more holy. For not to go forward in the spiritual life - is to fall backwards.
One excellent way to advance in the spiritual life is by invoking the Holy Name of the Savior. Throughout history, Christians have called upon the Holy Name to ward off evil, resist temptation, cure bodily ills.
The Acts of the Apostles records St Peter’s response to a lame beggar, “Gold and silver I have not, but what I have I will give thee, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ arise and walk.’ And the man arose and walked glorifying God.”
In the fourth century, St John Chrysostom beseeched Christians to carry the holy Name as a staff. “As you would not go abroad without clothes or shoes, so neither go forth without this Holy Name... speak it as you cross your threshold. It will be for you a staff, armor, and tower of defense.”
In 1943, a terrible plague broke out in Lisbon, Portugal. Thousands of people were dying in the streets and marketplaces. So many died so quickly that the dead could not be buried properly. Ravening dogs ate the flesh of exposed corpses causing disease to advance all the more.
A holy Bishop, Monsignor Andre Dias, despairing of human help, urged the unhappy people to call upon the Holy Name of Jesus. He implored the sick to say often: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”; he asked they write this name on cards and carry them around, place them under their pillow at night... but mostly, to constantly invoke the Holy Name on the lips.
At one point, Monsignor Dias summoned all to the Church of St Dominic. There, he preached to them of the Holy Name of Jesus, blessed water with this name, then sprinkled the water upon the sick and dying. The sick were restored to health; the dying rose from their agony.
News of this event spread and soon all Portugal was freed of the plague. From Portugal came numerous associations dedicated to spreading devotion to the Holy Name.
Am I plagued by a certain temptation? Is my flesh prone to a particular vice? Is my imagination an easy prey by which the devil leads me into sin?
We may not always have holy water to bless ourselves with, a church to run to, a priest to confide in... but we can always invoke the name, “Jesus” to rout the enemies of our salvation.
Sacred scripture calls this Name “holy and terrible”; St Paul tells us that every knee must bow to the Name “those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”
Do I have nightmares? Do I get impatient or angry? Do I suffer from impure thoughts? Then I must train myself to frequently invoke the holy Name of Jesus. “Jesus, come to my aid”; “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner”; “Jesus, Thou hast purchased me by Thy Most Precious Blood, do not loose me.” This Holy Name will scatter my fears and overcome my weakness.
St Bernard tells us, “Nothing so restrains the violence of anger, eases the swellings of pride, heals the wounds of spite, checks the flow of sensuality, extinguishes the flame of lust, restricts the thirst of greed, and puts to flight the craving for whatever is unbecoming” as the Name: Jesus.
Moreover, habitual use of the Holy Name is a sign of predestination.
St Francis de Sales says those who have a habit of repeating the Holy Name may feel certain of dying a holy death. For the saint tells us, “every time we say ‘Jesus’ we apply to ourselves the saving blood of the Redeemer to our souls.”
The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘savior.’ Holy scripture tells us it is a name of power, “There is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12); scripture comforts us to its effectiveness, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee.” (Ps 49:15)
But the power and effectiveness of the Holy Name will only really be known by us if we practice invoking It often both in, and out of our necessities.
We have begun a New Year. What the future holds we do not know... but we know it depends on us.
For if we want this world to be a better place - we must become more holy.
So let us go forth determined to increase the life of Christ in our souls by avoiding sin and doing good works. To help us in this holy endeavor, there is no more easy a practice than of frequently and affectionately invoking the Holy Name. By simply repeating the Holy Name of the Prince of Peace: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” we shall bring a little more peace into this poor world of ours. For if we but open our soul more to Christ, He will have a little more room on earth to put His peace.