Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Holy Name and a university's shame

Saint John was the only Apostle to remain with the Blessed Mother at the Crucifixion, and seared into his mind was the name of Jesus at the top of the cross. The Apostle was always reluctant to mention his own name. In his humility all that mattered was that he was loved by the Lord. When we receive our names in baptism, they radiate the Holy Name, for every Christian is a spark of the Saviour. We should say the Holy Name with reverence, and make reparation when we hear thoughtless people use it as a curse. They do not know its power, but Satan does, and that is why he wants us to twist it if he cannot blot it out.

In the fifteenth century St. Bernardine of Siena went from town to town preaching, holding a banner emblazoned with the letters IHS, which are the first Greek letters of "Jesus." It was most effective in getting people’s attention and Bernardine now is the patron saint of advertisers. In response to humbugs who accused the saint of making the acronym a kind of magical device, Pope Martin V told him to put a small cross over the letters, to make clear that this was the name of the Crucified One.

Young John survived all the Apostles and, grown old and still remembering how the Master had called them “teknia”—“little children”—the night before the Crucifixion, he used the same word: “Little children, I write to you because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). After Pentecost, with John standing next to him, Peter healed a crippled man by invoking the name of Jesus, which was better than "silver and gold" of which he had none. John and Peter were put on trial for this and Peter boldly declared, "There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

In the spiritual combat of our generation, Satan would tempt timorous Christians to esteem other names as greater than Jesus. Recently a Catholic university covered the letters IHS at the request of politicians, so that the Holy Name would not be seen by the cameras at a public event. When the powers that be were finished, and the letters uncovered again, so also was the weakness of the university exposed. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 10:33). St. Peter had no money, but he had the name of Jesus. Any institution ashamed of that name, will find that its golden endowment is tarnished and its silver adds up to just thirty pieces.

Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend
On whom my hopes of Heaven depend!
No; when I blush, be this my shame
That I no more revere His Name.
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The above is the "From the Pastor" column of the April 26 bulletin of the Church of Our Saviour, reprinted by permission of the author. If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation of any amount to the Church of Our Saviour.