The Catholic Church has long assigned each of the 12 months of the year to a different devotion in the Catholic faith. For January, this devotion is to the Holy Name of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11) and St. Peter says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus deserves our utmost respect because it is the name of God made man and as such it has extraordinary power.
The power of the name of Jesus is shown in that verse by St. Paul. Jesus’s name is so powerful that every knee will bend at the sound of it, whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, that is, in hell. Even the demons will bow down upon hearing it! And why is one name so powerful? St. Peter answers this question, saying that no other name under heaven can give us eternal salvation. The name of Jesus was given to the One Who had the power to reopen the gates of heaven to mankind after they had been shut because of the sin of Adam and Eve. He alone had the power to repair our relationship with God and again open up the possibility for us of spending eternity with God. No one else could do this. That is why the name of Jesus literally means “God saves.” Jesus Christ is the way that “God saves.” His name IS His identity.
Sadly, in today’s culture Jesus’s name is thrown around all too often without the consideration for the reverence and respect that is due to it. It is even often used in vain and with disdain and disrespect. With the growing number of “nones,” those who don’t claim a religious affiliation, and non-Christians, the need to treat the name of Jesus with respect is not understood or is just ignored. Its power is not heeded because there is not a belief that there is any power attached to it. As Christians then, we must lead the way to bring the respect and reverence back to this Holy Name and show why it is so powerful and mighty. That means that we have to be the first ones to show the reverence and respect to the name of Jesus that it deserves. His name should not roll casually off of our tongues, even if we’re not necessarily using it in vain or being disrespectful, and should instead be said with purpose and good intention. Every time we utter or hear His name, we should bow our heads slightly to acknowledge His place as Lord and the fact that this is the name of the One Who has died to save us. Whenever we get the chance, we should willingly and openly explain to those who don’t understand the greatness of this name its power and why it deserves such reverence and respect. There will be those who scoff at us and ignore our explanations, but we must continue to show the name of Jesus the reverence that it deserves and make reparations for those who continue to abuse it.
Whenever we hear someone take the name of Jesus in vain, we should say with love and sorrow in our hearts, “Blessed be His Holy Name,” one of the Divine Praises we pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I heard a homily on EWTN a few days ago where the priest talked about also applying this to ourselves, particularly if we catch ourselves in the act of taking the Name in vain, to stop ourselves and immediately interject with the “Blessed be His Holy Name.” We should also pray for people, including ourselves, who have taken the Name in vain, that they may come to recognize and understand the sacredness of it and why it needs to be said respectfully. Receiving Communion in reparation for these instances, particularly during the month of January, also has merit and can give great comfort to the Heart of Jesus. Every time we do something to make up for the blasphemies and outrages committed against Jesus, we please Him and add merit to our own efforts, as well as participate in the work of bringing others back to the understanding and practice of the Faith by our prayers and example. The Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus is also a good prayer to recite for others and for ourselves in reparation for sins committed against the Holy Name. Little by little, we can help others come to understand and respect the sacredness of Jesus’s name.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “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.” If we knew how sacred this Name truly is, we would not be so quick to misuse it. Even the demons will bow at the sound of it. During the month of January, we have the opportunity to increase our devotion to this Holy Name and spread it to others. This is the name of our Savior and our God. We should treat it as such and do our duties as Christians to make sure that others do as well.