Sermon: The Holy Name of Jesus

The podcast is available here.

The Christogram, “IHS”, is the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.

There is a single word, that every time I hear it, a joke pops into my head: unique. The joke: Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit? A: You-neek up on him. Apparently my last name has the same effect on people, for after being introduced, someone will inevitably say, “For whom the bell tolls.” Then they laugh as though they were the first ones to ever say it. They’re not.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. The name “Jesus” is from the Hebrew Joshua, or Yehoshuah, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh will save.” It was the name given to him by his Father. As we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

The name Jesus is an interesting name and has wildly varying effects on people. It can cause some to give thanks and others to rage. It is a name that has the ability to bring peace and ravaging wars. It is truly the name above all names, but why so much division. Why so much discord when it is spoken? There are many different answers, but one thing is for certain, we can either contribute to the rancor or help bring about a greater peace, for in the same way that people recall the name of an Ernest Hemingway novel when they hear my last name, they will or will not recall the name of Jesus when they hear yours. Consider a Stradivarius violin.

Stradivarius is the name associated with the finest violins in the world. This is true because Antonius Stradivarius insisted that no instrument constructed in his shop be sold until it was as near perfection as human care and skill could make it. Stradivarius observed, “God needs violins to send His music into the world, and if any violins are defective God’s music will be spoiled.” His philosophy was summed up in one sentence: “Other men will make other violins, but no man shall make a better one.”

Each violin was unique in itself, but each was the finest instrument of its kind. If not, Stradivarius would not attach his name to it. If he had, then the instruments he attached his name to would not have been considered of such great value, and in turn, his name would have been smeared and his influence forgotten.

In a similar manner, as the Christian people, the name of Jesus is attached to us and if we are not viewed as the holy instruments of our God, then we tarnish the name of Jesus and in the process we drive people away from the Truth and in many cases, make them enemies of God.

You bear the greatest name in history: Jesus. When people speak your name, may the name they also recall in their minds be that name: Jesus, because through you, they have experienced him.

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