The Holy Name and hurting hearts

January 24, 2017

One of the many things I love about the Catholic Church is that we know how to celebrate. The whole liturgical year is series of feasts and solemnities celebrating the good things that God has done for His people. 

Every day has something that we celebrate. In addition, each month of the year has a particular devotion which we focus on and celebrate. In the month of January, the Church asks us to focus in on a devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus; the name above all names; the name at which every knee shall bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth.

Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus has always been a part of the Church’s piety and is rooted deeply in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament, God reveals His divine name to Moses during the encounter with the burning bush. In the Liturgical songs of Israel, we hear the people of God confidently proclaim that their protection comes from knowing the holy name of God (Psalm 90:14). In the first chapter of the New Testament, the Holy name is revealed to St. Joseph when the angel Gabriel instructs him to name the incarnate Son of God “Jesus” (Mt 1:21).

The very name of Jesus, which in Hebrew means “God saves,” perfectly sums up His identity and His mission. The name of Jesus is holy because it is the name of He who is the author and epitome of holiness. The mission of Jesus is to save the lost and lonely sinners of the world, bringing healing to the hurt, and comfort to the afflicted. 

In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter stretches out his hand to heal a man crippled from birth. He says to the beggar, “I have neither silver nor gold but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean rise and walk” (Acts 3:6).

During the first week of January, parish youth ministry leaders from all across the Archdiocese gathered for a retreat to reflect on the theme of holiness. The time of reflection and renewal began on the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, and I say with absolute certainty that His name was glorified in the hearts and minds of all those who were in attendance. At the same time, something else happened on that retreat, hurting hearts were exposed to the deep love of the one who has the power to heal them.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to sit and share with many of the youth ministry leaders throughout the retreat. I listened as they shared the struggles which plague both their personal and professional lives. I cried with them as they allowed themselves to be vulnerable and open to the power of God’s grace and mercy. I prayed with them as they as they opened their hurting hearts to the great healing which comes from the Lord. 

As I sat with them, my heart began to share in the hurts which consumed their hearts. This is the true meaning of compassion, to suffer with someone. 

I felt woefully inadequate sitting with these amazing men and women who had such a passion and love for our Lord Jesus Christ. More often than not, I did not have eloquent words to satiate the hunger for healing which consumed their hearts. Yet the image of St. Peter continually came to my mind. I had no silver or gold, no words or wisdom, but I had the name of Jesus, and the power that went with it. I prayed with them. I laughed with them. I cried with them. I encouraged them to call upon the name of the Lord and to unite their sufferings with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I let Him be the God who saves, for that is what He is, and I am not.

Who in your life is suffering right now? Is it a family member or a friend? Is it a young person or an old person? A Christian or an atheist? A friend or an enemy? 

Each of us knows someone whose heart is hurting; someone who desperately needs the power contained in the Holy Name of Jesus. If you can go to that person and pray with them, then do it. If time, distance or circumstances keep you from going to them in person, then meet them in the Eucharist, and call upon the name of the Lord. 

Dunn Estacio is an associate director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.