Dirc, van Delft, active 1365-1404. Holy Face and Ten Names of God, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55392 [retrieved December 31, 2022]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirc_van_Delft_-_Holy_Face_and_Ten_Names_of_God_-_Walters_W1713R_-_Full_Page.jpg.

RCL The Holy Name
Numbers 6:22-27, Psalm 8, Galatians 4:4-7, Saint Luke 2:15-21

The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Feast, like Christmas and most Christian Feasts, that falls on a particular calendar day–January 1–and it can fall on any day of the week. When it falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, it takes precedence over the First Sunday after Christmas.

The Feast is important to us because Jesus’ name, the word Jesus, means God saves. That God saves is central to Christianity. That Jesus was born and crucified is a fact of history and revelation, and that fact, too, is central to Christianity. The fact tells us what Christianity is.

The Gospel today is seven verses long. You heard the first six of the seven on Christmas Eve. The seventh verse is peculiar to this Feast: “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”[1] You recall that, earlier in Luke, the Angel Gabriel, at the Annunciation, commands Mary to name the child Jesus.[2] You also recall that in Matthew the angel commands Joseph to name the child Jesus.[3] The Scriptures thus affirm that it is important to God that the child be named Jesus. Jesus will be who his name says he is. As the angel explains to Joseph in Matthew, the child will “save his people from their sins.”[4]

The last fact to be presented about the content of this Feast is that Joseph and Mary, in presenting Jesus for circumcision on the eighth day, are following the Law of Moses as written in Leviticus 12:3.

We Christians do well to remember that God has worked all of this out, as well as the ministry, teaching, and miracles of Jesus, so that we may have confidence in Jesus. He is who his name says he is. He does what his name says he does. He is the Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer of all who put their trust in him. And so, it is perfectly reasonable that we invite him into our hearts; it is perfectly reasonable that we allow him to save, to redeem, and to deliver us from all evils, from ourselves, and from the just punishment for our sins. Not only is it reasonable to do these things, doing them is also what God wants us to do. The Church, the Scriptures, and the Eucharist are all here to remind us and to call us into a deeper and deeper relationship with Jesus.

His name contains the whole story. It is the whole message. It is the fullness of God’s blessing, so that if we forget everything else we can recall what is essential for us to recall simply by calling his holy name.

[1] Saint Luke 2:21.

[2] Saint Luke 1:31.

[3] Saint Matthew 1:21.

[4] Ibid.