In a little over a month – on July 26, 2017 – the newly constructed Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will be dedicated! Seems like this would be an appropriate time to reflect on the Holy Name of Jesus. I read once that the sweetest sound in all the English language is the sound of our own name. As a teacher, we were reminded to make sure we addressed each child by name at some point during the day. As parents, my husband and I anticipated the joy of hearing our child say our names for the first time (and of course it was secretly a competition over whether he’d first say “mama” or “dada” – “mama” won, just sayin’). It never ceases to amaze me how much can be communicated by just a single word. “MAMA!!!” can mean, “Mom, you’re home! I missed you so much! Look dad, it’s MOM!” But “mooommaaaa” can also mean, “Mom I stubbed my toe, dad won’t give me a third string cheese, I’m super tired, and I need you to hold me right now.” Recently “mama” can also show possession, “this is mom’s car” or “that’s mom’s purse.” With just one little word, my child can communicate so much.
So, knowing how much it means to us to hear our own name spoken and how much can be communicated through that single word… How often do we say the name of Jesus? How often do we joyfully shout “Jesus!!!” in our hearts when we encounter Him in the Eucharist? How often do we cry out “Jesus!” when we need Him to hold us in a loving embrace? The name of Jesus is in itself a prayer. Through the name of Jesus, we can communicate the deepest desires of our hearts, the thoughts we dare not utter aloud, and those emotions or feelings that are just too difficult to identify or put into words. Just like a parent loves hearing a child speak his/her name for the first time, I am sure Jesus no doubt delights in hearing us speak His name as well – just like we do!
Now let’s also reflect for a minute about how often we speak the name of Jesus to others? The word “evangelization” stems from the Latin “evangelium” meaning “Good News”. Jesus IS the Good News. In a recent Word on Fire podcast (by now you must know is my favorite!), Bishop Barron reminded us that you cannot preach the “Good News” – and therefore you cannot evangelize – without the name of Jesus. So like we are told at the end of Mass – let’s go forth and announce the Gospel of the Lord – and speak the Holy Name of Jesus.