Jesus’ Most Holy Name

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While celebrating the solemnity of the epiphany of Our Lord, on Sunday 3 January 2021, on the same date also fell the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

The name Jesus, a masculine name, comes from the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), the Greek rendition of the Hebrew name Yeshua (ישוע‎). The Semitic root of the name Yeshua/Y’shua, which is y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), literally means “to deliver; to rescue.” Hence, we can say that it means “Yahweh is salvation”.

Being the Word of God, the Bible definitely shows us the power of Jesus’ mighty Name. First, there is power in the Name of Jesus. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil 2:9-10). Second, demons are subject to you and me in the Name of Jesus. The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Third, salvation is to be found in the Name of Jesus. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me (Acts 14:6). Or, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13). Fourth, by calling the Name of Jesus we are saved. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11).

Impressive is the huge testimony of the saints concerning the Holy Name of Jesus! Saint John Henry Newman writes (1801-1890): To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living. The great Dominican mystic and author of many classic books, Blessed Henry Suso (1290-1365), wrote: Faith in Jesus and in the power of His Holy Name is the greatest spiritual force in the world today. It is a source of joy and inspiration in our youth; of strength in our manhood, when only His Holy Name and His grace can enable us to overcome temptation; of hope, consolation, and confidence at the hour of our death, when more than ever before, we realize that the meaning of Jesus is ‘Lord, the Savior.’ We should bow in reverence to His Name and submission to His Holy Will.

The famous Italian Franciscan priest and missionary, Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) said: When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul’s voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.

By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles, and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the Name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the Name of Jesus “at all times,” but never more than when “bearing witness to his faith.”

Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this Name “before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry wherever he journeyed: “The night is passing away, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves honorably as in the day.” Paul himself showed forth the burning and shining-light set upon a candlestick, everywhere proclaiming “Jesus, and Him crucified.”


And so the Church, the Bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony, rejoices with the psalmist, singing: “O God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says: “Sing to the Lord, and bless His Name, proclaim His salvation day after day.” And this salvation is Jesus, Her savior.

Saint Peter Chyrsologus (406-450), the Bishop of Ravenna and better known as the “Doctor of Homilies”, due to the concise yet theologically rich reflections he delivered when he was Bishop at Ravenna, said: Any you shall call His name Jesus, because in His Name we adore the entire majesty of the Godhead. All who dwell in the heavens, those who abide upon the earth, and every one of those who are held in the depths of hell, bow down prostate to this Name. This is the Name which gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, agility to the lame, speech to the mute, and life to the dead; the power of this Name forced the mastery of the devil entirely from the bodies of the possessed. On the other hand, Saint Lawrence Justinian (1381-1456), who was a canon regular and later appointed bishop till he became the first Patriarch of Venice, said: If thou art bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary thee, if thou art trembling with fear, invoke the name of Jesus.

The Burgundian abbot, a major leader in the revitalization of Benedictine monasticism throught the growing Order of Cistercians Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), made the following reflection on Jesus’ Name when writing the acclaimed hymn Iesu Dulcis Memoria, precisely on the Most Holy Name of Jesus:


The sweet Name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the Name Jesus: if you write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the Name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, light in the eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the Name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the Name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy Name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the Name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish.


Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this help-giving Name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures. If we call to our minds the Name of Jesus, it brings before us His most meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving and tender compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the Name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the Name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the Name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.


In another powerful reflection on Jesus’ Holy Name, my brother Franciscan friar, Saint Benardino of Siena, had this to say about the Name which is above all name: Glorious name, gracious name, name of love and of power! Through you sins are forgiven, through you enemies are vanquished, through you the sick are freed from their illness, through you those suffering in trials are made strong and cheerful. You bring honor to those who believe, you teach those who preach, you give strength to the toiler, you sustain the weary.

If Jesus’ Name is so powerful why not invoke it everyday? Here I would like to humbly suggest that famous Chaplet of the Holy Name. It is prayed on a 33 bead chaplet, which consists of 3 decades of 1 large bead that is followed by ten small beads. This 33-bead “rosaries” or as we know it in the Easter tradition chotki, can be utilised to practice this very fruitful devotion. Here is the structure for praying the Chaplet of the Holy Name of Jesus:

Make an Act of Contrition (i.e., pray this prayer earnestly):

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.


And pray:

Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me.


First Decade:

On the first large bead:

Lord, Thou hast said: “Ask and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” I seek, I knock, I ask this favor [name your intention].
On each of the first group of ten small beads:
Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me.


Second Decade:

On the second large bead:

“Amen, I say unto you, if ye ask the Father anything in My Name it shall be given unto you.”

It is of the Father and in Thy Name, Lord, I ask this favor.


On each of the second group of 10 small beads:

Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me.


Third Decade:

On the third large bead:

Lord, Thou hast said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away,” Thou wilt grant me this favor because Thou hast said it and Thy word is true.


On each of the third group of 10 small beads:

Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me.

If we experience the power of the Chaplet of the Holy Name of Jesus let us divulge it through prayer cards and our personal and communal Facebook! Let us let Jesus Christ keep saving us and others by opening ourselves completely to His Most Holy Name! Amen!

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap