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  • Writer's pictureFaith Hakesley

The Holy Name of Jesus

Encouraging respect for God's holy name

+JMJ+ It seems that everywhere these days we hear the name of God being taken in vain, and many of us are all but immune to it.

The idea of not using God’s name in vain first appears in the Bible in the book of Exodus when Moses received the 10 Commandments. The second commandment God gives to us is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

So what does this mean? Quite simply, we are to hold the name of Our Lord above all other names and we are to keep His name holy.

A name is a really wonderful thing when you stop and think about it. Names make up part of the identity of a person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this. “Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person.” (CCC 2157) There is something about a name that is beautiful and intimate.

Consider the fact that God chose to reveal His name to us. He didn’t have to do that! However, God chose to do this because He wants a full relationship with us. What a beautiful gift! Life would feel very different if we were praying to and praising a nameless being. I try to make it a daily practice to thank God for His graces and blessings, and thanking an unknown would feel very strange indeed. Yet, knowing His name allows me to have a closer relationship with Him. I can thank God directly. I am talking to someone (even if I can’t see Him), someone with whom I strive to better my relationship.

God is all-loving and He desires the deepest and most intimate relationship with each and every one of us. How wonderful that He gave us the ability to call on Him at any time. Just speaking His name with love and reverence is a prayer!

How often have you been having a rough day or suffering deeply and simply said, “Jesus, help me?” How often has the mere thought of God been a comfort? It would be strange to think instead of a being with no name. Knowing God’s name seems so simple yet it is really so profound. We have a relationship with an Almighty, all-powerful God and He has given us the ability to contact Him BY NAME at any time and in any situation.

There is tremendous power in the name of Jesus! Consider that even demons are subject to His Holy Name. God’s enemies are afraid of the mere mention of His name. Wow! We human beings certainly don’t have that power - not even close! So why do we continue to use His name so carelessly?

Even among relatives and friends and certainly on TV, the use of words and phrases such as “OMG” and “geez” and other inappropriate uses of the name of Jesus are sadly frequent. There is a world of a difference between using God’s name in prayer and supplication as opposed to using it as an expression of shock in casual conversation. My dad once asked his young CCD students how they would feel if someone used their names in the same way. Most likely, the majority of people wouldn’t like it. Yet, we continue to use the most holy of names with such disregard and disrespect. The frequent uses of Jesus’ name as a curse instead of a blessing should make one’s skin crawl. Hearing God’s name used to carelessly should bother us! After all, to profane God’s name is to offend God Himself.

Many Catholics seem confused as to why many of their fellow Catholics don’t believe in the True Presence and why many individuals don’t offer Our Lord the respect He deserves in this most holy sacrament. While there are a number of reasons behind the lack of belief in the True Presence, should this lack of respect for the Eucharist really come as any surprise to us when His name is used with such recklessness in our society? Why would respect be given to Christ in the Eucharist if people can’t even say His name appropriately, with reverence and respect? Sometimes we have to start at the basics and work our way up from there. Maybe, just maybe, encouraging reverence for God’s Holy Name is a good place to start in helping to restore love and respect for the Eucharist.

We can all do our part to help encourage the respect God’s name deserves. How? Here are some ideas anyone can do. If you are not already doing these things, Lent would be a great time to start!

1. When you hear God’s name used in a profane or disrespectful way, offer a small prayer such as, “Blessed be the name of Jesus.” A dear priest friend taught this to my family and it is such a beautiful act of faith to pass along to others. You can do this quietly under your breath, silently in your heart, or loud enough for the other person to hear if the situation seems appropriate to do so. It certainly could be the start to a conversation and a good teaching moment.

2. Bow your head whenever you say or hear the name "Jesus." I am grateful to my parents for teaching this to my siblings and I while we were growing up, and it’s a simple practice that my husband and I are trying to pass along to our children.

3. Make a conscious effort to replace exclamations of “OMG,” “geez,” and maybe even “gosh” with something else. Before you speak, ask yourself this question: Is what I am saying (or about to say) bringing reverence and respect for God? If not, then perhaps you should consider removing certain words and phrases from your conversations.

4. If you are not already ending and beginning your day with thoughts and prayers of gratitude, consider starting. Give thanks to God the Father for His gifts, graces, and blessings everyday. You can even pick just one or two simple blessings to focus on everyday, and be sure to thank Him for the personal and intimate relationship that you have with Him.

Let us always seek to approach Our Lord with the innocence and purity of a child and strive to always honor Our Lord in thought, word, and deed. May we remember that our God is an awesome God and He deserves profound respect and reverence.

Blessed be the Holy Name of Jesus!


For further reading:

The article HERE explains where the somewhat lost practice of bowing one's head at the name of Jesus came from and why we should do it.

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